This past April 21-22 myself, Brent Wildman, and Brad Beadles set out on a 2 day 1 night exploration trip in Pisgah National Forest. We rode a total of 62 miles and climbed 7,331 ft.
Day 1: Wilson Creek Visitor Center - Grandfather Mountain Campground
The crew met up at Wilson Creek Visitor Center where we loaded up the bikes and started heading north towards the Blue Ridge Parkway. We spent most of the day on fire roads following crystal clear rivers and overlooking amazing valley views. The ride was a climb all the way to dinner, at the Pedalin' Pig. The climbing rivaled anything the rockies or Great Divide route has to offer, but towards the middle of the day we were treated with steep singletrack hike-a-bike and capped off the climbing with a deadly 2 mile road/gravel section that resulted in all of us doing switch backs just to traverse the climb. All in all the first day was everything you'd expect out of Pisgah National Forest- difficult climbing, amazing views, and thick forest. The Wilson Creek Visitor Center, Grandfather Campground, and Pedalin' Pig had great staff. We had the chance to talk with the owner of Pedalin' Pig and he's a huge mountain biker!
Day 2: Grandfather Mountain Campground - Wilson Creek Visitor Center
After a restful, but rainy sleep, the crew got up and pointed the bikes back up along a busy (lots of cars on highway 105) 3 mile climb back to the town of Banner Elk where we hit up a coffee shop for fresh brewed coffee and baked goods! As we departed back down 105 to Linville the rain drops (the rain never let up) started falling again. We decided to make a push to the car and get out of the rain. We planned on spending 1 more night along Pineola Road just north of Wilson Creek Visitor Center, but the rain chilled us and we weren't looking forward to setting up camp in the cold rain. The upside to all the rain, we spent a huge majority of the ride going downhill. A much appreciated change from Day 1's 4,247 ft. of climbing.
If you're looking for an overnighter or long weekend this section of Pisgah National Forest is spot on! To make the route longer you could add in Table Rock area. Weekends could be busy, but for the most part we didn't see too many people along the route. Benefits to a National Forest is you can camp anywhere. The route was littered with amazing campgrounds, but they are not marked on the National Geographic map we used.