Great Descents – Dirt Surfing The Downhill


Listed here are three of the best trails for letting go of the brakes in both Pisgah and DuPont. Riding fast is one thing; riding in control is another. It is important to remember that public lands are open to everyone and riders are likely to see other users out on the trails. Riding too fast is dangerous for the rider and other users. Keep it in control and ensure everyone enjoys his or her day in the woods.

DuPont State Recreational Forest has its own version of a modern flow trail. Flow trails have increased in popularity in the past few years across the globe as access points for riders who are looking for what can only be described as easy fun. There is no huge climb to get there and there are few spots where riders can get in over their head. Popular for both beginner riders and the pros, Ridgeline is a mile-long descent filled with big berms and rollers that can be gapped. It has an elevation drop of only 400 feet with an average grade of about 6 percent.

2016Mountainbiking28Ridgeline has been reworked just this last year by a local trail contracting company, Trail Dynamics, which is also responsible for a number of other trails in the area. The purpose for reworking Ridgeline was to control rider speed and increase the safety of all trail users. Ridgeline, like all trails in DuPont, is open in both directions to equestrians, hikers, and mountain bikers. Ridgeline is best ridden as a loop with a climb up Jim Branch Trail from the Lake Imaging Parking lot on Staton Rd. Refer to the Ride Guide to see this loop.

Pilot Rock Trail is arguably the most sustained technical downhill in Pisgah National Forest. Dropping 1,300 feet in 2 miles at a nice and steady 13 percent grade, the trail switchbacks just as much as it plows straight. The trail is rocky and narrow at times with high consequences. Riders can pick up some speed on this downhill and if the corners are held wide, it’s not necessary to brake heavily or pedal the whole way down. It is classic Pisgah.  Most riders loop the Pilot Rock downhill with the long and steady climb up Laurel Mountain Trail. Round trip that loop should take most riders about three to four hours. Some mountain bikers enjoy the technical uphill challenge as well, so a shot at climbing Pilot is worth it. It is nearly all rideable, but it is slow going. Be careful, as riders come screaming down pretty fast.

2016GreatDecents_AveryCreek2016GreatDecents_AveryCreek04AVERY CREEK TRAIL
Avery Creek Trail has received a lot of love in the past two years from volunteers. The result is a much drier, faster, more fun downhill with better sight lines. The grade drops 1,100 feet in 1.5 miles, which allows riders to pick up serious speed. Locals can reach speeds of 20 mph and higher on this trail, so the ride is over pretty quick if there are no flat tires.  To loop the trail, park at the horse stables on FS 477. Climb through the gate up Clawhammer Mountain and when you reach the gap at the top, make a left up Black Mountain Trail. Stay on Black Mountain, and enjoy a couple of downhills as the trail makes its way across the ridge before dropping to Club Gap. Make the left at the gap and enjoy the ride. The trail splits at the bottom to get back to the road. Either way leads back to the horse stables on FS 477, although the Buckhorn route is typically drier.


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