Bicycling in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective
The humble bicycle. Popularized, I hear, in the late 19th century when Krakatoa’s eruption complicated the prospect of horse-based transportation due to the global dispersion of toxic volcanic sediment. That’s just what I hear.
Anyways, as in all things, Asheville excels when it comes to bicycling. Whether you’re visiting with a bike-rack attached, or if you plan on renting some wheels once you get here, bicycling in Asheville is one of the very best ways to enjoy the city’s scenery at speed. So, without further ado, here’s five of the best places for bicycling in Asheville.
1: French Broad River Greenway
Every self-respecting city these days has a greenway, and Asheville’s no exception. This series of bike and walking trails links Hominy Creek River Park, Carrier Park, and the French Broad River Park all while following the gentle curve of the eponymous French Broad River. It runs about two-and-a-half miles roundtrip, and it's some of the flattest riding in the city, by virtue of the floodplains.
Once you make it to Carrier Park, about midway between the other two parks, you’ll find volleyball courts, a playground, and the Mellow Drome velodrome, not to mention the omnipresent riverside scenery. I suggest concluding your two-wheeled calisthenics with lunch at Home Grown, one of my favorite restaurants in my area, or a visit to the River Arts District, just across the water.
Nearest Bike Rental: French Broad Outfitter’s Hominy Creek location.
2: The North Carolina Arboretum
On the less urban side of things—but still no more than fifteen minutes from downtown—the Arboretum has long been my go-to spot for enjoying a little sunshine and fresh mountain air. Entry for members is free, while one-time visitors should expect a $16 parking fee. A small price to pay to support the cultivation and protection of local flora and fauna, if you ask me.
The Arboretum sports a range of biking trails. On the casual end, you’ve got Bent Creek Road. Two-and-a-half miles roundtrip over smooth terrain, eventually connecting up with Lake Powhatan. On the flipside, you’ve got Hard Times Road. Only one-and-a-half miles on paper, all I can say is you shouldn’t take this biking trail’s name too lightly.
Nearest Bike Rental: MustAsheville bikes, just a few minutes north of the Arboretum.
I feel like I mention the Biltmore Estate every other article. But, the Estate is one of the best-known local attractions for good reason. Not only do they offer tours of the largest (and most elegant) privately-owned mansion in America, but the Biltmore’s grounds constitute no less than twenty miles' worth of trails.
On those twenty miles you’ll find a smorgasbord of pastoral scenery: rolling hills, fields of crops, and copse-ringed lakes. The paths range in difficulty from flat and paved to dirt paths through the woods, making it one of the most varied locales for biking in Asheville.
Nearest Bike Rental: Visitors can acquire bikes at the Antler Hill Bike Barn, near to the Estate’s winery, tavern, and ice-cream shop.
Part of the Adventure Center of Asheville, Kolo Bike Park offers some of the most bike-centric fun in Asheville. Four miles of wooded tracks, skill tests, pump tracks, jump lines, and even a children’s area, all within five minutes of downtown. It’s a great place to hone your expertise, or simply mess around (safely, of course).
While you’re there, you may want to check out the Adventure Center’s ziplining and/or treetop adventure park. Adventure indeed.
Nearest Bike Rental: On site.
5: DuPont State Recreational Forest
I’ve lived in Asheville for decades now, and I’ve still only scratched the surface of this tremendous wilderness area. It may be an hour out from downtown, but with eighty-six miles of rugged trails, 10,000 acres of Appalachian forest, and a plethora of water features, DuPont has to be one of my favorite hiking and biking locations in the entire state.
Those who know suggest parking at Corn Mill Shoals for the Cedar Rock Mountain, some of the best bicycling in all of DuPont. Other popular biking trailheads include Fawn Lake, Lake Imaging, and Guion Farm.
Nearest Bike Rental: Nowhere close. Better bring your own.
French Broad Outfitters
230 Hominy Creek Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
North Carolina Arboretum
100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806
1446 Brevard Rd #101, Asheville, NC 28806
1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803
Adventure Center of Asheville
85 Expo Dr, Asheville, NC 28806
DuPont State Recreational Forest
Staton Rd, Cedar Mountain, NC 28718