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.
One of 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. Those looking for a family activity can check out the Tuckasegee River Greenway that features a paved, flat and shaded one-mile there-and-back stretch paralleling the Tuckasegee River.
Mountain bikers will enjoy WCU’s 6.7-mile trail system, which places you in the middle of the forest on expertly designed tracks to test your shocks and thrill you. Winding its way behind campus and near the county’s airport on the top of the mountain, the trails are the perfect place to head on a business trip. 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.