The Catawba Falls trail is closed until spring of 2024. Click here to find alternative waterfall and hiking trails.

Oct. 17, 2021, 10:58 a.m.

Old Fort: The New Blue Ridge Cycling Hub

Mountain Bike Winter

If you prefer to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains on two wheels, powered only by the strength of your own two legs, then there’s no doubt that Old Fort deserves a place on your mountain biking bucket list.

Situated on the edge of the Grandfather District of Pisgah National Forest, Old Fort is emerging as the next great hub for the cycling community. The town boasts breathtaking trails and the perfect spots to start and end your ride — and there’s much more to come.

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Plan your Old Fort cycling adventure

Fuel up with a hot cup of coffee and a snack at the Old Fort Ride House, a cafe and ideal meet-up spot located in the recently opened Kitsbow manufacturing facility right in the heart of town. (Kitsbow’s high-end cycling apparel is made-to-order right here!) Need a tune-up? Call ahead for an appointment or stop by to check out the on-site bike shop and mechanic who will have you ready to ride in no time.

When it’s time to hit the trail, choose from a few local favorites:

  • The 10-mile Kitsuma Peak trail is considered a “must-ride” among experienced cyclists for its challenging switchback-filled climb and views of Mount Mitchell, followed by a thrilling 3-mile descent.
  • Heartbreak Ridge is 4 miles of high-speed downhill riding, dropping 2,000 feet over that short distance. Reaching the trailhead is a challenge in itself — a popular choice is to climb Curtis Creek Road for about 5 miles as it follows the Blue Ridge Parkway, then turn off to the left and hike your bike another 200 feet to Glass Rock Knob.
  • Between Labor Day and Memorial Day, cyclists can also use the trails at Camp Grier to connect to other routes. (The trails are closed to the public during the summer.)

At the end of the day, recap the ride with a pint of locally brewed craft beer on Hillman Beer’s relaxing creekside patio — right next door to the Ride House. Try the Old Fort Original golden lager, and pair it with one of the brewery’s signature burgers or sandwiches.

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More biking on the horizon in Old Fort

It won’t be long before cyclists have more than 40 miles of brand new trails to explore near Old Fort, thanks to the efforts of the G5 Collective — a non-profit partnership working with the National Forest Service to construct new routes and parking areas, plus connectors to several existing trails.

Supporters of the initiative can lend a hand by helping with trail maintenance on one of the collective’s Trail Work Days.