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Level: Intermediate
Length: 8 mi (12.9 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +722/ -706 ft
Total: 34 riders

Mountain Biking Hanging Dog

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#46 of 544 mountain bike trails in North Carolina
#958 in the world

Picture groomed singletrack meandering through established forest and surrounded by water. Now picture what it would look like if the forestry service allowed logging companies to drive their trucks and bulldozers over every square inch of it, because that is what happened.

The closest trail system to Murphy, NC, Hanging Dog was never a place you went solely to ride sweet singletrack. It was a place you went to get some serious exercise. Although it only boasts 10 miles of trails, you're liable to burn the same amount of calories as you would on 20 miles of Tsali or Tanasi. Much of the trail system is simply laid out on existing logging and fire roads with singletrack only where it was needed to make a connection. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable. It was, in it's own sadistic way, a beautiful ride. It was just a beautiful ride your legs and lungs paid for.

Closed for more than a year, Hanging Dog trail system was reported "REOPENED" by the forestry service in around June of 2013. It quickly became apparent that their idea of an open MTB trail and anyone that rode MTB's idea of an open trail were polar opposites. Hundreds of felled trees deemed too small by the lumber companies were left laying across the new dozer roads. 5 foot tall grasses covered the "trail" leaving the whole network impassable. Thanks only to the efforts of the few local regulars, the system has once again become a network you can ride.

"So", you may be asking yourself, "What is Hanging Dog now?" Well, it's a bit less pretty and it's a lot less singletrack-y, but thanks to the efforts of the local riders, it's as much of a workout as it has ever been.

Updated 2/12/14.

First added by schwim on Dec 31, 2002. Last updated May 2, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: yes
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
From Murphy take Joe Brown Hwy for 5 miles to Hanging Dog Campground. Turn left into campground and follow road to gravel parking area. As soon as you have entered the gravel parking area, bear right up hill to upper lot. Go straight until you arrive to gated FS road. Trailhead is immediately to the right of the gated road.
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Hanging Dog Trail map

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schwim (on Apr 27, 2019)
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Good (on Apr 15, 2019)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Murphy, North Carolina

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  • tmattinson

    Rode the trail April 3, 2016. Totally dry and open. Lots of leaves covering the trail and making it a bit hard to see. Some brutal climbs. Good trail overall and not heavily used. I was the only rider for the hour I was on it.

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  • TSneed

    Hanging Dog Trails are open and clear thanks to several local riders. Some climbing with decent downhills. Excellent views of Hiawassee Lake .

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  • Sizzlin_Weasel

    This trail has a lot of potential. There is plenty if parking and bathrooms. I was 1 mile in and the remainder of the trail was closed due to logging. I plan to return. I rode in November and there were a lot of leaves covering the trail. There are blue markers to keep you on the trail.

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  • schwim   ✓ supporter

    A fantastic circuit of just under 10 miles if you ride it all, Hanging Dog offers challenging climbs and some exciting descents. The circuit is almost completely covered by a bed of pine needles and leaves, which make this circuit a great option for riding during wet weather as the trail is protected from rutting and there's little to no standing water.

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  • RJen

    This is a good ride if you're not expecting a flowing "groomed" trail and don't mind some tree litter. I found a campground host on site that had trail maps, but you could possibly get one at the USFS office in Murfey.* Review edited 9/12/2011

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  • lslick23

    This was a good trail that someone is maintaining that hopefully more people will ride to get it broken in more. Their are signs with where to park and a bike on it and I had no problem printing a trail map from online. I will hit this again one day.

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  • Greg Heil   ✓ supporter

    A map out here would have been very helpful. There was no big sign posted at the trailhead, and no small maps for use while out on the trail. The first couple of trails before you reach the gravel road on the ridge are in great shape and are a blast to ride, but the trails on the other side just don't get enough attention and traffic. There were several downed trees, tons of downed sticks, and some of the trails just aren't built with mountain bikes in mind.... we did a lot of hike-a-bike.

    I'm not going to be back.

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  • MrsPizza

    Did this trail for the first time after a heavy rain so there were some branches on the trails but no major obstacles. Did find the trails a little dark,at times, but after all, it is located in a forest. Locals are working on maintenence and signage and had no need for gps. We followed the map from the local bike shop. Took the old boat launch gravel road back.* Review edited 8/9/2011

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  • mitchman1982

    Most trails suffer from over use and high traffice, this trail suffers from not enough traffic. The trails are excellent, but it needs more traffice from mountain bikers to pack them down to hard fast rolling greatness, currently they are pine needle which is like riding on a sponge. I highly recommend anyone near this area paying their dues and riding this whenever possible to make it a great one, I guess Tsali gets all the love, but when we erode that to death, I think people will start to look here for a good time. and PS... it appears that most of the down trees were cleared, I dont remember but a couple for the 10 miles we rode.* Review edited 10/24/2010

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  • ga-otter

    These trails need some serious TLC & were so overgrown with briars & Poison Ivy that it wasn't very fun. While Hanging Dog has the potential to have some great single track, it's obvious that it's trail recieve no maintenance. More often than not, the trails were completely over grown. At least one of the trails was totally impassable. It's a good thing that I don't get Poison Ivy or my legs would be covered. I biked every trail out there and just got frustrated. I almost blew off the last one, South Ramsey Bluff, but since it looked clear I biked it. While very short, it was pretty sweet, clear, & shows the potential of this trail system. Too bad that less than 2 miles of this trails system is rideable. The infrastructure is there for this to be a great trail system. It's a beautiful spot with well marked trails cut in. It just needs big time TLC & then some promotion so that people ride it. I was the only Mtn. Biker there on a summer Sunday.

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  • appalachian_outfitters

    The trails are in fantastic shape. We have been riding the trails weekly this winter. The Forest Service has cut all the fallen trees this past Feburary. Hanging Dog in my opinion is a fantistic trail system, the trail has plenty of climbing and downhill sections. I always use this trail for an excellent training and spinning. Enjoy your ride!

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  • Rockinr

    Don't Waste your time. These trails are not being maintained. Briars grown over trail at least 10 trees down in the first mile. I got discusted and left after about a mile and a half of this c***py trail. It could be a very good trail system if it had some maintenance.

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  • Jeff Barber

    I assumed these trails would be fairly flat since they are located on the shores of Lake Hiawassee but we quickly found the trails offer some pretty significant climbing. The loops can be a bit confusing but we eventually started to understand by consulting the free map we picked up at the Murphy visitors center.

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