This loop through the Wilson Creek Area of Pisgah National Forest appeals to the masochistic athlete; it begins with a relentless 3.5 mile climb and finishes with a 4.5 mile descent through some of Pisgah's most beautiful terrain. The first section connects the Roseborough Road with Old House Gap.
At this small clearing two trails intersect. Take a right and a deep breath for the final .1 mile grind. Stay left until this final uphill ends.
Stay right on the entire downhill. The descent is simply unbelievable. It starts very technical (but not so technical that it cannot be ridden FAST) and smooths out at the bottom before intersecting a gravel road at the end (stay right).
In late April when the Rhododendron and Mtn. Laurel bloom it is spectacular. Only drawback is the dearth of long-range views. Do not worry about the "NPS Bear Area" signs. Also, a map might be helpful. The second half is remote and primitive. I have never encountered another party on this trail, though it is considered "popular" by some.
Elevation change is 1100 feet. 8 miles of physically and psychologically stressful riding. The first section is STEEP and contains only a moment's refreshment, though I have a (strange) friend who actually loves this part. The second section is fast, eroded and otherwise terrifying.