Lay of the Land: Navigating the Best of Pisgah and DuPont

In Brevard, North Carolina, riders discover a cycling paradise that has it all, from gravel to trail to town.
Photos courtesy of Explore Brevard

In recent years, Brevard, North Carolina has become a mecca for cyclists of every stripe, beckoned by the siren call of Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Recreational Forest. Add to this a stellar lineup of craft breweries, food and live music and you’ve got all the makings of an unforgettable cycling adventure. 

To help get you sorted before you mount up, we’ve put together a five-point primer on how to make the most of your experience.

Know your forest 

Will it be Pisgah, DuPont… or both? It all depends on what kind of rider you are. Are you someone who’s always looking for the most challenging and technical terrain, or are you an aficionado of the fast and flowing? If it’s the former, head directly to Pisgah National Forest. There, hundreds of miles of rocky, rooty goodness await. If it’s the latter, you’ll dig the slick, buttery allure of the diverse but compact trail system at DuPont State Recreational Forest. If you’re a fan of both you’ll be happy to know that it only takes about 20 minutes by vehicle to get from one to the other. 

All of which begs the question: What to ride once you’ve decided where to ride? No worries. We’ve put together a great list of under-the-radar rides in Pisgah and DuPont

If you’re planning a trip during the winter months, check out this article by former Tour de France rider and USA National Road Champion Matthew Busche, who makes his home in Brevard and is equally at home on the local trails.  

Get on the gravel

It’s no secret that Transylvania County possesses the largest concentration of singletrack in the Southeast – some 300+ miles of it. Lesser known is the vast network of gravel roads — mostly old timber and fire roads — that crisscross both Pisgah and DuPont, opening up a world of incredible deep woods experiences like hidden waterfalls, secluded swimming holes and primo camping sites for gravel riders and bikepacking enthusiasts. 

To navigate this vast network of roads we recommend the purchase of the Pisgah Ranger District and DuPont maps (waterproof and tearproof) made by the Pisgah Map Company. Yes, physical maps are old school, but having a map of the entire network gives you a big-picture perspective of all your riding options, while also providing a handy backup if your phone battery goes south. Speaking of phones, Pisgah Map Company offers a map app that serves as a perfect complement to the folding map.

Tap into the local knowledge

Whether you’re looking for a piece of gear you forgot to bring, a tune up for your rig, some advice on which trails to hit, or just looking for some cool swag, Brevard boasts four outstanding bike shops:  The Hub & Pisgah Tavern, Squatch Bikes and Brews, Earth Mountain Bicycle, and Sycamore Cycles. For a full list of Transylvania County’s cycling services, including shops, tour companies, and bike clubs, go here.

If you’re looking to brush up on your skills or are aiming to bump up your fitness, Brevard is also home to Carmichael Training Systems, world renowned for their expertise in helping thousands of cyclists achieve their goals. 

Finally, tune in to this Singletracks podcast episode featuring Brevard’s trail building expert, Todd Branham. He’ll tell you how you can ride like a local. 

Broaden your horizons

The trails alone are worth making a beeline for Brevard, but off-the-bike attractions give our area a buzz that puts it head and shoulders above just about any other cycling destination in the U.S. For starters, Brevard and Transylvania County are rightfully known as the “Land of Waterfalls.” In all, there are 250 cascades to discover. Many are accessible on two wheels but to see the most spectacular examples you’ll have to trade your wheels for a sturdy pair of hiking boots. Believe us, it’s a worthwhile trade. 

And with over 100,000 acres of public lands in Transylvania County, there’s no shortage of other activities you can get up to while here: paddling the French Broad River, climbing Looking Glass Rock, trout fishing on the Davidson River (one of the Top 100 Trout Streams in America), or just taking a scenic drive (or road ride) on the spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Discover the perfect base camp

At the center of this mountain biking heaven is the town of Brevard, named one of the “coolest small towns in America” by Budget Travel. And it’s getting cooler by the day. Brevard boasts a craft beer culture that supports five independent breweries, a live music scene that embraces everything from bluegrass jams in the woods to Beethoven symphonies under the stars, and a colony of craftspeople and artists whose work is celebrated in galleries around the world.

It’s easy to find a comfy place to call your own during your stay. There are loads of great options that can put you within a stone’s throw of your favorite rides. Here’s a full list of Transylvania County accommodations, many of which offer seasonal specials.

After you check in, head to one of the aforementioned taprooms: Oskar Blues, Noblebrau, Brevard Brewing, Ecusta, and UpCountry. We teamed up with avid mountain biker and beer connoisseur Ben Hardy to create this tasty sampler of beer and trail pairings to mull over while you tap into our local brews. Equally tasty are the food choices available in our brew houses and restaurants – from North Carolina barbeque to piled high burgers to super stuffed burritos – that are perfect for refueling after a long day in the saddle. 

The soundtrack to your Brevard adventure is provided by a live music scene that is as dynamic and varied as you’d find in any big city. The difference is an intimacy that puts you right in the middle of the music – whether it’s being performed on the street or around a fire ring at a local cantina.

For those with more refined musical tastes there is the world-famous Brevard Music Center, home to a summer festival featuring over 100 symphonies, chamber concerts and operas performed under the stars in an open-air amphitheater, along with an ever-growing list of popular music concerts featuring bluegrass, jazz and Americana. To top it all off, seasonal festivals like the Mountain Song Festival bring together some of the country’s most famous solo and group acts on the traditional, old time and newgrass scene. 

Ready to start planning your ultimate cycling trip? Get rolling by visiting