Mountain Biking North Carolina
by Timm Muth (Falcon Guides)
© Timm Muth/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
This definitely ranks as one of my favorite rides. Laurel features one of the best singletrack climbs in Pisgah - some techy rock sections and the usual roots on a mostly gradual (for Pisgah) ascent. Contrary to the above trail description, I do NOT recommend riding Laurel as an out-and-back! Especially on the weekends and during all days in summer, you will find that this trail is popular, and you will encounter, and likely frighten, many ascending riders as you barrel down the trail on the out-and-back route. Consider taking the Laurel Mountain Connector trail to the Pilot Rock trail, descending Pilot, and following FS road 1206 back to your vehicle at Yellow Gap. The Pilot Rock trail offers a fabulous albeit rocky and technical descent, and I highly recommend it.
Another variation of Laurel is to descend an unmarked trail at Sassafras Gap (roughly 6 miles from the start of Laurel at Yellow Gap) to Big Creek trail. Ride back on the Hendo Reservoir Road to FS road 1206.
Started on the parkway; walked first part to intersection with Laurel Mtn. Connector. Rode the rest downhill. Ran shuttle to Yellow Gap Road, (I ride an offroad unicycle). Took about 2.5 hours. Some parts too wet/steep to ride. Excellent technical riding. Last 3 miles very rolling with some difficult rocky sections. The weather was foggy and wet. Trail would be much easier if it were dry. Well marked trail, excellent places to take a break, one of my favorite downhills in Pisgah so far.
Correction to last post , should have been for the Laurel River trail near Hot Springs !
This trail is awesome. This is an intermediate level ride. Beginners would push and crash too much to enjoy it. Killer climbs. The views are spectacular especially from the exposed rock area. Tight switchbacks keep you on your toes. Huge waterbars to launch off of after the switchbacks. Next time we will ride to the steep section everybody pushes then ride back down. That will be a blast.
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