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Jackson County on Two Wheels

With the variety of terrain and challenges for riders, Jackson County is the perfect weekend destination for cycling enthusiasts.

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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. Download the trail map.

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. Located about 100 yards from the Oconaluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, the trails interlace through the nearby Great Smoky Mountains and is only a 20-minute drive from neighboring Sylva. These views are guaranteed to take your breath away! Free and open all day, every day, the trails will be waiting for your arrival.

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. The full trail system is set to be completed before the end of 2019, but riders are encouraged to give the current trails a try when the dirt is dry.

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