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Mill Ridge Professional Review and Guide
"This 3.5-mile loop of single- and doubletrack is one of only three officially designated mountain bike trails in the French Broad District of the Pisgah National Forest. The most unusual aspect of this trail is its seeming lack of uphill, at least in a clockwise direction, a curious feature for a loop, especially one whit such a screaming downhill section. At the end of the loop, take time for the short climb to the overlook where the Appalachian Trail intersects, and where a wide view opens to the south, showing the French Broad River in the valley below.It is possible that you’ll see some motorized traffic traveling along portions of this road, but you are much more likely to see deer disappearing into the tangle of laurel thickets growing on the steep slopes. There are plenty of signs indicating that bobcats and coyotes use the bike trail as well."
--Steve Jones, Mountain Bike! The Southern Appalachian & Smoky Mountains (Menasha Ridge Press).
Realize this is coming from a beginning mountain biker from Houston (yes, Houston) vacationing in the Hot Springs area. The trailhead is easy to find, just cross the bridge, drive up the hill and follow the signs. The posted map has all but disintegrated, so bring your own. The listed description says it seems like it's all downhill except for the last half mile (going clockwise). That's because it IS all down hill for the first 3 miles or so. Nice double track, some beautiful overlooks, easy going, even for a flatlander. The last half mile, though. Whoa. First, don't miss the turnoff. Easy to miss on your right, but there is a Forest Service sign. Head up the hill on the single track, and keep it in your easy gear. Intermediate to expert bikers may be able to peddle the whole way up, but we had to walk our bikes a fair distance. Several times. We made it though (turn right when you hit the road). If we did it again, we may go counter clockwise. It would be a wicked downhill the first bit, and a slow manageable uphill for the rest, but we could probably make it the whole way. Just be prepared...and bring plenty of water.
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