Whether you’re a brand-new beginner or a seasoned mountain biker, the greater Maggie Valley area is home to some of the best mountain biking trails in the Smoky Mountains, including Pisgah National Forest, Tsali Recreation Area, and Dupont Forest. Explore hundreds of miles of adrenaline fueled trails with a variety of difficulties all set against a breathtaking backdrop of scenic mountain views. Read on to learn about some of our guests’ favorites!
Balsam Mountain Road
Start out easy with a beginner level ride just down the road from Meadowlark Motel in Cherokee, NC. Balsam Mountain Road is approximately 18 miles of double track dirt and gravel that descends in long, winding curves just off the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway. With an average grade of 3%, the climbs aren’t too challenging, making it a great place for beginners to test the waters.
If you’re sticking around Cherokee and looking for more of a challenge, then head to Fire Tower, rated intermediate/difficult. This 2.3-mile double track is extremely steep, climbing all the way to the top of Mt. Noble.
Add the Kessel Run onto the Fire Tower mountain biking trail, and you’re in for a super challenging run. A highlight of the entire Fire Mountain Trail System, Kessel Run is fast and exciting with the kind of speed and flow that mountain bikers dream about.
Black Mountain Trail
Over in Pisgah National Forest you’ll find 9.8 miles of heart pumping adventure that gets you up close and personal with Smoky Mountain nature. Rated difficult, Black Mountain Trail sees an elevation change of 1,900 feet. You’ll start out on a fairly easy section, but don’t get too comfortable because you’ll quickly run into Little Hickory Knob and its 800-foot ascent. With lots of ups and downs and some jaw-dropping views, the two summits of Clawhammer Mountain and Black Mountain make this a favorite for advanced mountain bikers.
Slightly easier than Black Mountain, Squirrel Gap – also in Pisgah – is rated moderate but is still packed with plenty of challenges…and plenty of roots. This trail starts in a grass opening, then turns into a winding side slope trail with plenty of climbs and descents before becoming a narrow, rooty and rocky single track that will test your balance and your stamina.
Mouse Branch Loop
Visit the Tsali Recreation Area in Swain County, North Carolina for one of the top mountain biking destinations in the Eastern United States. Packed with 42 miles of epic trails, make sure you ride the Mouse Branch Loop. Rated moderate, this 8.7-mile trail is one of the more technical of the four loops at Tsali. The gradual uphills get full sun exposure and will make you sweat, but the views of Lake Fontana when you get to the top are totally worth it. You may even spot wildlife like wild turkey, deer, and grouse along the way. Combine it with the Thompson Loop for an epic ride.
This 7.3-mile trail is also ranked as moderate and matches the Mouse Branch Loop in technical challenges with its tight and twisting turns. Take on the single track at warp speed as you traverse rugged wilderness, cross over streams, and navigate your way down old logging roads. With an overall elevation change of about 300 feet, there are a couple of climbs that may sneak up on you. But it’s all worth it in the end. Make note: The Tsali trails rotate with horseback riders. So, make sure you head out on a mountain biking day.
Deep Creek Trail
Only 40 minutes from Maggie Valley in Bryson City, NC, you’ll find breathtaking views and a somewhat beginner-friendly ride on the Deep Creek Trail. This round-trip 4.5-mile trail traces the edge of the crystal-clear waters of Deep Creek. (FYI, this creek is also a great spot for fly fishing!) – link to fishing article to be published week of June 25 There are a couple of steep climbs on the outbound trail that will test a beginner mountain biker, but reaching the top is worth the reward.
Indian Creek Trail
Tack on the less-traveled Indian Creek Trail to your Deep Creek ride for a longer adventure and a tougher workout – plus a beautiful waterfall! You’ll feel the burn on the uphill climb that ranges from gradual to moderate to super steep. But the return trip is all downhill, and you can take in the tranquility of nature as the refreshing Indian Creek ripples alongside the trail. One note for both Deep Creek and Indian Creek: bikes are not allowed beyond where the old roadbed ends and the trail begins.
DuPont Ridge Loop
Located in Western North Carolina between nearby Brevard and Hendersonville you’ll find DuPont State Recreational Forest. This 10,400-acre forest sprinkled with awe-inspiring waterfalls is a mountain biker’s playground. One of the favorite trails is the intermediate-rated Dupont Ridge Loop. This 6-mile ride is a fluid loop that climbs through dense forests with a thrilling and speedy downhill descent, tackling epic dips and curves.
One of the best known mountain biking trails in DuPont is the Airstrip Trail. This intermediate-rated single track trail may only be 0.9 miles long, but its tight switchbacks and solid sight lines, plus the fact that it is well-maintained, makes it a favorite among both locals and visiting mountain bikers.
After a day of mountain biking near Maggie Valley, you’ll need a place to rest and relax. At the Meadowlark Motel, you’ll find rooms and cabins decorated with a relaxing Appalachian chic style and amenities like fun games and live musical performances on our BackPorch Pavilion. Give us a call at 828-926-1717 or visit our website to book your stay. We can’t wait to see you!