North Carolina’s national forests are a wonderful venue for the fast-growing sport of mountain biking. Myriad fire roads and trails will challenge you as you struggle through a jungle of rhododendron, breeze through fern meadows, and coast past colorful wildflowers. Mountain bikers are considered off-pavement cyclists who ride any open or closed roads or single-track mountain bike trails.
National forests in North Carolina offer more than 257 miles of trails for mountain biking - 63 mountain biking trails are open year-round and another 8 trails are open October 15-April 15. Trails open to mountain bikers are designated with a bike symbol sign. If no sign exists, the trail is for hiking only. Cyclists may ride most closed roads, which should also be signed if they are open to cyclists. Wilderness areas are off-limits for bikers.
The largest collection of mountain biking trails is found in the Tsali Recreation Area. Bikers must pay a fee to access the trails, which is used to maintain and improve them.
A trail’s difficulty is graded according to 3 factors: tread, steepness, and length. The ratings are Easy, More Difficult, and Most Difficult. Easy trails are marked with a ball, More Difficult with a square, and Most Difficult with a diamond. Any trail that climbs more than a 30-percent incline for quite a distance or is 10 miles or more in length would receive a Most Difficult rating. Trails with lots of rocks, roots, and stream crossings would also be labeled Most Difficult. For more information on biking in the National Forests, contact the forest supervisor or ranger for a particular district.
The following links point to other helpful sites about mountain biking in North Carolina. Please contact us with any other North Carolina links that would be a helpful addition to this section.
- NC Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development
- This site presents all types of helpful information about North Carolina events, sights to see, accommodations among other things. Its search engine allows you to search for information that may not be readily apparent.
- NC Division of Parks & Recreation
- This division’s website has information about state parks with trails for mountain biking along with hours of operation, regulations, and other important data. Just click on the park you’re interested in.
- Mountain Biking in Western North Carolina
- This website calls itself MTB WNC and is part of the WNCOutdoors.info network of sites. The different sections of the site include Trailheads, Best Rides, Area Information, Maps, Photo Gallery, and Clubs and Organizations.
- This site lists off-road and single-track trails in the Triangle area of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill). It also has numerous links to information about trails in other parts of North Carolina.
- Tsali Recreation Area
- On the MTB WNC site, find information on trail usage schedules, a list and description of all the trails, and a link to a map of the Tsali Recreation Area.
- Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association
- SORBA chapters are in six southern states, including North Carolina. Use this link to find the local SORBA group in a particular area; then select it to learn more about the local chapter, local rides, and how to get involved. NC Chapters include Cape Fear SORBA, Pisgah Area SORBA, SORBA Uwharrie, and Triangle Off-Road Cyclists.