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↑ 1,900 ft
↓ 1,900 ft
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4.59 out of 5
About This Trail
added by dalmasp Bunny Hop on February 16, 2004
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Follow the trail along the Interstate until it starts to climb. After 14 switchbacks, go over the top of the ridge. The trail stays on top of the ridge. At the only fork in the trail, take the left side trail. There should be a sign pointing to the Old Fort Picnic area. Once you reach the picnic ground, go to the main road and take the immediate left turn. Go around a white gate 1/8 of a mile up and follow the paved road until you get back to Royal Gorge Rd. again.

The singletrack trail goes from Ridgecrest to the Old Fort Picnic grounds, and through a beautiful section of the Pisgah National Forest. The elevation change is around 2,200 feet. The climb up the 14 switchbacks to the top of Kitsuma is tough, but the downhill off the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge range is worth the effort. The first downhill section is very steep and rocky. In wet conditions, I hike-a-bike this section.

Next is a section of ups and downs with flats and then around 4 miles of super singletrack downhill. The trail is narrow and there are some serious drop-offs if you leave the trail.

The ride back up the Blue Ridge is along a gated (no cars), overgrown, paved road with beautiful views of the ridge line you just rode down and the Blue Ridge and South Mountains. It is about 5 miles back up, but it is not steep.
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17 check-ins
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on Sep 11, 2014
Calebmmallory on August 23, 2014
1 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: The initial climb is challenging, especially for the first timer here. But my goodness that downhill is amazing. Wish I could get my DH bike up there to hit all the drops at full speed, my XC handled it nicely though. I would like to shed some light onto how to get back to the trail head once you complete the downhill:

Once you exit the trail into the picnic area you'll want to head to the right out of the picnic area and onto the road. From here you will take your first left and go by two homes with the creek running beside you on your left. Take that road all the way till you come to the gated area and keep going. It's a challenging climb if you're exhausted from the trail, just lock your suspension, raise your seat, and climb for about 35-50 minutes. There's some great views from the road. When you exit the road you'll be on an open road with cars so be careful. Take that road all the way down till you come to the 4 way cross. take the left and you're on the road back to the trailhead. It's worth it! You may not think so when you're on the climb back but when you get to your car you know it.

Similar Trail: Not many. At least in Western NC

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mtngirl123 on August 17, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Love this trail!! Beautiful views at the top:)

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man.cave on June 27, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Great trail with a few tough climbs. The downhill section is fast and finished before u know it. I wasn't a fan of the gated highway trip back because it seemed to go on forever. I will do it again but not when it is 89 degrees and high humidity. Must ride for any advanced to intermediate rider.

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Matt_Noel on February 16, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Yes, nice climb if you like climbs do it twice. Fast downhill.

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oohoo on January 1, 2014
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: People aren't lying when they say the climb at the beginning is rough. It a real leg burner work your way up it, take breaks when necessary and you'll be alright because the ride down is completely worth it. Flying along the edge of the ridge at top speed with plenty of obstacles along the way to keep you grabbing the handle bars with all your strength!!! The ride on the road back isn't difficult but a little boring after the roller coaster you just went through. Drove from Charlotte in 2 hrs and it was completely worth it. This trail had me stop a couple times to take in the scenery and smile at how much fun flying down the ridge line was.

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bhair3 on September 16, 2013
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: The first climb up the switchbacks is a challenge and a good warm up.. The singletrack is good but not great there is alot of erosion and spots for a high risk crash, more of a challenge than it is fun for my taste.. The climb out on the old highway is a easy climb with some great views.

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gmk on January 2, 2012
1 out of 2 readers found this useful
Review: Excellent technical trail with a difficult climb to start the ride. All 14 switch backs are rideable. Trail has been recently modified as you approach the top of the switchback climb. Instead of going to the summit where there is a primitive campsite and descending down the steep back side, a new, short trail has been cut to the right to bypass the original steep descent. This is right before the final push to the summit. The new trail is well-marked with a brown trail sign. This is a great ride but in my opinion, more difficult than Bent Creek and Dupont. The trail is in good condition as a decent amount of work was done to it in the past year. Numerous undulations. It is worth the effort as the trail is very exciting and challenging. The climb back up on the newly paved Point Lookout Greenway Trail is relaxing with good views and no car traffic, since it is gated. It is a long, continuous push but nothing overly difficult.

* Review edited 1/2/2012

Similar Trail: Dupont, Bent Creek

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Gronckle on June 5, 2011
0 out of 1 readers found this useful
Review: The starting switchbacks are rough - But whether you ride or walk the bike up, it doesn't take long to get to the top. The trail itself is fantastic! incredible views as you knife along the narrow ridge. The inital descent was so steep the guy in front of me couldnt even walk down it - he basically slid and held his bike sideways to stop at the bottom of the drop. Extremely steep ups and downs and incredibly fun, even moreso for those mad downhill bombers out there (not me). I was not so happy about the 5 mile grind back up on the abandoned road. Very scenic, but I don't like long uphill road runs on my Mtn bike. I Was disappointed that half the loop's mileage is climbing pavement - but the trail part is indeed awesome. Rode 6/5/11. 5 or six large trees down. a few can sneak up on you if you're bombing through, so be careful. I rated a three overall for the whole loop thats mapped here, but the Singletrack section (four miles or so) alone would get a 5. * Review edited 6/5/2011

* Review edited 6/5/2011

Similar Trail: Pisgah, NC

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gottaluvit on March 11, 2011
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Great trail. Unfortunately for me this was my first ever trail to ride. The switchbacks up to the top are not that steep but would be tough to ride up (i walked up) but once you get to the top it is an amazing ride down. It is completl worth the way up. After the ride down the 5 mile uphill back to the start is rough. The scenery is good but its just long. All in all tho, a great trail

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gyuziuk on December 26, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: I start at the picnic area, exit out and make my way up on the abandoned road. Follow directions carefully at the top, especially along the side road (with traffic), and find the trail head. The switchbacks are challenging. I like to rate my rides at Kitsuma by the number of switchbacks I can make without getting off. Usually 10 of 14 I think is average for me. Some of them are unforgiving if you fall and fail to clip out. Near the top in June Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron are in bloom creating narrow walls of pink and white flowers I have yet to see elsewhere. At the top decide whether you want to carry your bike down the initial descent. Then ride the rest of the way in one of the most beautiful sceneries you'll find in WNC. Only disadvantage is that it's rather short (you may want to make two loops) and it's just one trail in the area.* Review edited 12/26/2010

* Review edited 12/26/2010

Similar Trail: Bent Creek

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EZ-E on September 26, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Trail undergoing frequent trail closures due to major trailwork after being funded by the American reinvestment and bailout act (not joking). They've had the trail torn up in many spots, to the point where it is sometimes un-rideable and the parking lot gate is closed. If you are traveling some distance to ride Kitsuma, recommend you call Epic Cycles in Black Mountain (828.669.5969) for an update on the trail status.

Similar Trail: Sugar Mountain, DuPont

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GoldenGoose on April 28, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: On a good day, this one will bite you if you aren't paying attention. In the rain, it's downright dangerous. I made the mistake of heading out on the trail under cloudy weather. I thought I could beat the rain and I thought wrong. The switchbacks weren't as bad as everyone made them out to be. Only two of them made me come off the bike. However, heed the warnings about the initial downhill section after you have cleared the switchbacks. That section is very unforgiving. Drop your seat and get back over your rear tire or you'll go over the bars and taste a mouthfull of dirt like I did. Right after that section the rain started and the rest of the trail was slick and unruly. Still, it was a great downhill ridgeline run and the views are pretty sweet. Lots of exposure on the trailside cliffs! For the most part, the only real aerobic challenge was on the switchbacks at the start. The final 4 mile uphill climb back to the lot is an easy grade on pavement. Great trail. Wish I lived closer so I could go back on a dry day.

Similar Trail: Pinhoti

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rmoon on April 12, 2010
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: Not much to add to these reviews. tough climb, fun down hills beautiful scenery. Classic ride. One cauttion a couple of trres have root balled up on the decent to Old Fort and one has left a big gash in the trail that will hurt you if you if you fly in to it.

Similar Trail: Mid Mountian in Park City Georgia Pinhoti

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louh on May 14, 2009
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: After riding Kitsuma today, I feel like a little kid---can I do it again? But, I am not a little kid but a 52 yr old woman that loves the next challenge; even though it would have been safer to stay at home. I rode conservative because I was alone, but only cleared half of the swithback exits with all the roots--I also don't carry a lot of weight. There was another hike-a-bike on the initial descent,but just like the pain of childbirth, it all passed to wonderful singletrack that was worth all the effort the 1st 2.5mi. After the campground, it was like biking riding in Central Park -only better. I loved it and am going to ride it again untlil I ride all of it.

Similar Trail: White Rock to Pilot Mtn

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plantme777 on January 13, 2008
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: I rode this one after reading the previously posted reviews and I truly enjoyed the trail. I was intimidated by the talk about the initial switchbacks, but was pleased and surprised to clear them all on the first try. (although admittedly there was an instance of tree-leaning, in order to catch my breth at one point)The top of the ridge sneaks up on you. The 14 only take a few minutes, then there is the nice drop into a steep but very rideable fall line. The previous advice is good about letting loose at the end of this descent. You will want the inertia as you attempt the following climb. I thought this steep pitch was the most unpleasant of the ride, mainly because I was not expecting it. What follows, however, is blissful and prolonged and wonderful. The ridgeline descent flows through beautiful rhodedendron thickets, is just dangerous enough to make you feel like you are accomplishing something, and allows plenty of speed for long periods of time. All of this accompanied by that unique aroma of Appalachian soil, and filtered light through the canopy above. The picnic grounds are upon you way too soon (there is a cool bridge at the bottom that allows for a rail/skinny ride over the creek while your adrenaline is still coursing)and the ride back to the top begins. I found it very pleasant too, like a private road for the mountain bike community, with good conversation and great views. I really liked this trail alot. This is one of the few 5 ratings that I have relinquished.(a low 5, but a 5 just the same)

Similar Trail: Kitsuma is a unique ride.

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gatorback on October 7, 2007
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: I'm a Florida rider and rode this trail in September 2007 on a trip to the Asheville/Brevard area. I'd heard there were a bunch of tough switchbacks and I love climbing for long periods of time (I can't get that kind of riding in Florida). This trail was excellent. The switchbacks themselves are not too tight or technical, but there are some really steep exits which make it difficult to clean them. I rode a little more than half of them my first time out. If you can clean this trail on the way up, you are a great rider and are in great shape. The old highway you ride back after going through the Old Fort picnic grounds can be either a relaxing ride home (it is a closed road and there is no traffic) or you can hammer it if you are looking for a workout. You can ride the road up in the big ring. It is a gradual but consistent climb. This is an awesome ride if you like singletrack climbing that is difficult but not overly technical. The descents--with the exception of one area near the top--are not tough for North Carolina riding. Look out for the rattlers--I rode right over a small one on the descent and fortunately was going fast and was out of danger before it knew what happened. This is excellent riding. I will be going back. The Brevard/Asheville area is a riding mecca if you ask me.

Was this Review helpful? Yes | No on November 7, 2006
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: This trail was more difficult than I expected. The start was a grueling climb up the 14ish switchbacks. I'm generally too proud to walk up a climb, but this sections was mostly a hike for me. The ridge ride is awesome, but I found that durring the Fall (I rode it in November) it's hard to see roots and rocks on the trail. Also, my group got lost on the road back. Here's what we should have done: When you exit the picnic grounds turn left . There's another road immediately to your right, but don't take it. Stay on the "dead end" road and soon you'd get to a closed gate. Go around the gate and follow this closed road about 4 or 5 miles. It's uphill the entire way, but the grade is not bad. This is a very scenic ride and almost as fun as the preceeding single track. When you get the the top of this closed road, go around the other gate and turn left. Follow this road back to Ridgecrest and Royal Gorge Rd. Take a left onto Royal Gorge and follow it to the parking area. This is a difficult ride but one of the best I've done in a while.

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sleahcim on August 1, 2006
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: While I haven't riden this trail, I have hiked it many times. Thought you might like a little humility thrown into the mix: Camp Ridgecrest uses this trail (from the parking lot to the top of Kitsuma) as the last "rite of passage" for their male campers at the end of their summer stay at the camp. The campers are from ten to sixteen years old. Oh yeah, one more thing, they run all the way to the top.

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teeradejk on May 1, 2006
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: What an awesome trail! The climb up the switchbacks was a good workout but not too technical. The downhill part, on the other hand, was a different story. It was significantly more technical than the ride up. The trail was narrow, steep, and rooty, and if you don't know what you're doing, there's a big drop waiting for you on the side. I wouldn't recommend it for intermediate riders, but the experienced riders will love this trail.

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EZ-E on August 7, 2005
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: The "14 switchbacks" from the Royal Gorge Rd Trailhead are a LUNGBUSTER!! At the top of the switchbacks, you are in a clearing with no signs...look across the clearing just a bit to the left and you'll see the obvious continuation of the trail. Trail follows the ridgeline for a long while - there are some hardhitting rooty downhills - watch out here, you can definitely endo. There are a few spots that were just a blur I was descending so fast! The "Old Fort Picnic Area" trail sign was broken and on the ground. From that sign, it is a tight and fast switchback descent to the picnic area. Per the directions above, when you arrive at the Old Fort Picnic Ground and head out to the road...when you reach the paved road(you'll see a silver historical sign for "Andrews Geyser" across the street) the road goes in 3 directions, look to the FAR left and take the road with the DEAD END sign. This is old Hwy 70 and is closed to cars - this will keep you on the path as described in the directions. This way will turn into "Yates Rd" and will go directly back to the Royal Gorge Rd trailhead. The other left, actually middle road, is a longer road ride and longer uphill which eventually hooks up with the same Yates Rd above - this way will take you past the Historic Andrews (Spring) Geyser and a B&B. Next time, I'm just doing an out-and-back, reversing at the end and staying on the trail the whole way - that's if my body can take it! This trail WILL humble you!! It would be awesome if you could camp at the Old Fort Picnic Ground.

Similar Trail: DuPont National Forest(Corn Shoal-Slickrock)

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K2K on July 16, 2005
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: What a rush, I started at the Old Fort picninc ground and did all the climbing 1st. Well most of the climbing 1st. The ride up Old 70 is long but steady. It opens up to views of the ridgeline you will soon be descending. The climb up the eroded 14 switchbacks is doable but tight and rooty in places. The 1st descent must be 60-65 degree fall line. Let go and hold on there is a nice transition to scrub that speed. The ridge line drains rteally well but it got a little soupy towards the bottom as the trail hooks up with the creek and drops to the picnic area. Have a cousin that lives in Blk Mtn so I can't wait to get back there and clean this s***er...

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kow on September 7, 2004
0 out of 0 readers found this useful
Review: No kidding, this trail is amazingly unique. Alex and I decided to try it b/c it sounded awesome. It was. The climb was rough. We hiked a bike up a good many of the switchbacks. We didn't worry too much about the forecast for the day, but by the time we were up at the top, it was raining pretty steadily. The rocks were wet, the roots were wet, and within 15 minutes, the mud was as slick as could be. The dropoffs were pretty steep, so we cautiously rode and hiked the bikes down a good bit of the downhill. As we were debating whether or not this was a biking trail - surely it was just a hiking trial - some crazy dude came FLYING by us in full downhill gear... as we carried the bikes. (how humbling!) I think we must have imagined him... he couldn't have possibly had any grip for the curves! For our journey, the steady rain turned into an all out thunderstorm, complete with lightning, hail, and huge gusts of wind that whipped through the valley as we raced up the five miles back to the parking lot. It was an unforgettable experience. The views were awesome, and the trail was gorgeous. I highly recommend this hidden gem... but pick a dry day, even if you're brave!

Similar Trail: I've never seen anything like it! ...for biking, that is!

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Kitsuma MTB Trail 4.59 out of 5 based on 22 ratings. 22 user reviews.
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Trail Features
  • Lift Service
  • Drinking Water
  •   Night Riding
  • Pump Track
  • Restrooms
  • Winter Fat Biking
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