Jackson County on Two Wheels
With the variety of terrain and challenges for riders, Jackson County is the perfect weekend destination for cycling enthusiasts.
The county’s steep elevation gains and mountainous terrain make for an unparalleled experience on the trail. And with 185 named peaks, you’ll find the road bike challenge you’ve been begging for here.
Local riders have built out many great route maps, courtesy of Motion Makers bike shop. One of the many routes popular with local bikers, The Ring of Fire—named for the burn your legs feel afterward—begins at Western Carolina University and traverses a 38.2-mile strenuous loop. Every Tuesday night during Daylight Savings Time, intermediate riders—including many out-of-towners—gather at local bike shop Motion Makers and ascend from Sylva to Balsam; on Wednesdays they have rides for advanced riders. Motion Makers also offers bike rentals; call in advance to check availability.
Every year, Cashiers plays host to the Tour de Cashiers, an extreme cycling challenge that covers the scenic byways of Jackson, Macon and Transylvania Counties. The three routes (25, 62 or 100 miles) feature more than 10,000 feet of elevation change with steep climbs and fast descents.
Fire Mountain Trails
Adventure awaits at the best mountain biking trails in Western North Carolina
Fire Mountain, Cherokee, N.C.’s newest place for adrenaline-pumping adventure in the heart of the Qualla Boundary, is a multi-use trail system that is any mountain biker’s dream come true. Spanning more than 10.5 miles total, the trails have a nice flow of features with surprises around every turn. The trails offer fun berms, 20+ switchbacks in a single run and quick hits of elevation that are manageable and fun. You may even spot some wildlife along the way.
Fire Mountain Trails offer countless opportunities for adventure for participants of all skills. There are single-track and wider sections, spots that are smooth and fast, and trails that welcome the more technically accomplished. Download the trail map.
Panthertown Trail Mountain Biking
Panthertown Valley’s challenging cross-country riding experience
Panthertown Valley is often recognized as offering some of the best hiking and camping in the region. However, unknown to many is that these trails also offer over 20 miles of mountain bike trails for riders who enjoy a truly off-the-beaten-path cycling experience. These scenic trials traverse through many of the valley’s most popular destinations such as cliff-top views, along 8 major waterfalls and countless smaller ones, and along the area’s crystal-clear streams. A map is recommended before your visit and can be ordered online or picked up at the Highland Hiker.
Tuckasegee River Greenway Biking
Relax and enjoy a calm and cool riding experience
The Tuckasegee River Greenway is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This one-mile there-and-back trail traverses along the Tuckasegee and is ideal for those who want a more relaxing and scenic biking experience. The paved trail maintains a flat elevation and is shaded along its entire course and offers coinvent amenities such as restrooms, ample parking, picnic benches, and a bike maintenance station.
Kids Bike Park at Tuck Greenway
Bringing the extreme down a notch for beginner mountain bikers
The Jackson County Greenway Kids’ Bike Park features a 750-foot bike trail suited for beginner bikers. Located less than half a mile (from the Locust Creek entrance) along the paved and shaded Tuckasegee River Greenway, this trail system features tabletop jumps, pumps, berms, and even an inner gravel track for younger kids.
Western Carolina University Trail System
Over 6-miles of multi-use trails with adrenaline-pumping flow
The WCU Multi-Use Trail system is 6.8 miles of narrow single-track trail designed for foot traffic and mountain bike use. The trail is intermediate in difficulty with steep mountainside terrain. Although the elevation change from the trail’s highest to lowest point is just a few hundred feet, there are lots of ups and downs for bikers to enjoy.