Over the past few years, the city of Brevard in Transylvania County, North Carolina, has earned its place on the map as a cyclist's paradise, thanks to the more than 800 kilometres (497 miles) of trails for cyclists and mountain bikers within 30 minutes of the city’s core.
For those looking for a new place to get dialed in, here’s your guide to six of the areas most popular trails in the area.
Spin N' Grin Course
Length: 44 kilometers (27 miles)
Just try to find the Comporium parking lot in downtown Brevard empty on a Saturday morning. It is almost an impossible scenario as visiting and local cyclists alike crowd the area to experience the Spin N' Grin Course. This otherwise innocuous area is the starting point for the most picturesque roads in Transylvania County, one that winds a 44-kilometer (27 mile) double loop through the countryside showing off everything that makes this town so special, including the scenic East Fork of the French Broad River. Beloved for the scenery of fields and forests that surround Brevard, the Spin N' Grin Course is one of the few no-drop rides in the area. Providing mostly flat terrain, those who fancy more of a challenge can also take alternate routes that feature rollers, valley flats, and the legendary climb to Walnut Hollow.
Length: 63 kilometers (39 miles)
The 63-kilometer (39 mile) Sassafras Express is for road cyclists who want to satisfy their need for speed. An easy start heading out of Brevard into a serene valley leads to a couple of testing climbs before the ripping 4.8-kilometer (3 mile) descent of Sassafras Road. This section can easily sweep cyclists up to 96 kilometres (60 mile) per hour without even really trying; however, the extreme gradient of the track makes the Sassafras Express challenging to all skill levels. From Sassafras, it’s a long but moderate climb back to Brevard along scenic US 178.
Assault on the Carolinas Course
Length: 105 kilometers (65 miles)
Itching for a challenge? The Assault on the Carolinas Course is the premiere road cycling event of Transylvania County, taking place every April. The 105-kilometer (65 mile) course combines each unique road cycling challenge that surrounds Brevard. Heading out of the city, cyclists ascend Walnut Hollow and the climb continues up US-178 before finally making its high speedy descent into South Carolina. The lengthy rollers throughout the South Carolina section will keep cyclists warm for the toughest climb of the ride - Caesar's Head. After a challenging 13-kilometer (8.1 mile) slog upwards, those who have come this far into the Assault are rewarded with a final downhill stretch, complete with a refreshing breeze, and curvy esses, just before returning to Brevard.
Length: 6.4 kilometre (4 mile)
Ranging just over six kilometers, the mix of single track trails and gravel forest service roads that make up the Ridgeline Trail serve as the best introduction to mountain biking trails within DuPont State Recreational Forest. Accessible from the Guion Farms parking lot right by the kid's mountain biking trail, everyone from beginner to advanced riders love this fast, flowy forest trail for its sweeping downhills and lack of technical difficulty.
Length: 4.5 kilometers (2.8 mile)
Relatively new to the area, the Bracken Preserve Trail connects Brevard to the untamed ruggedness of the Pisgah National Forest when it opened in 2012. Mountain bikers can tackle the technically challenging Bracken Mountain Trail starting from behind the Brevard Music Center, tracing the trail up to the Bushy Creek Trail, and make a scenic 4.5-kilometer (2.8 mile) loop as the path rejoins the Bracken Mountain Trail. With steep climbs and some challenging switchbacks, Bracken Mountain is no walk in the park. However, for cyclists looking for an additional challenge, this trail also serves as a jumping-off point to a number of great area trails including Cove Creek and Daniel Ridge.
Swank 65 Course
Length: 60 kilometers (37.3 mile)
Every mountain biking area needs to have that one epic trail; the one that you save until the last moment to end the season on a high note. In Brevard, that trail is the Swank 65 Course in Pisgah National Forest. Each year, the Swank 65 is home to a season-ending race, but bikers don't need to enter to get chewed up and spit out by the challenge. At 60 kilometres (37.3 miles) long, the Swank 65 takes cyclists up a grueling 7,000 feet in elevation before tossing them down the technical and legendary descent at Farlow Gap. Be ready for a few hair-raising moments and some serious thigh cramps.
You can find directions and additional details for these rides and more here.