Off-Road in North Carolina
About 30 miles south of Asheville, North Carolina, the Pisgah National Forest is an East Coast mountain-biking wonderland — 300 miles of rugged trails to suit any kind of rider: steep singletrack, challenging drops and log jumps, high-speed hairpin turns, and gentle forest roads that wind past waterfalls. "It's pretty breathtaking what we have here," says Wes Dickson, a former racer who now runs Sycamore Cycles.
The closest town is Brevard, about five miles from the 500,000-acre forest. Oskar Blues REEB Ranch offers rooms (from $250 a night), or visit The Bike Farm, where you can glamp out in a tent with a comfy bed ($100 a night). Both places cater to cyclists, with rentals and miles of trails right off the property. Sycamore Cycles and The Hub sit outside the park's entrance and can provide maps, local intel, rentals, and guided rides. Dickson often suggests a 12-and-half-mile route called Clawhammer — 2,000 feet of climbing before a screaming four-mile descent where riders hit speeds of 35 miles per hour. After the ride, Oskar Blues brewery in Brevard has an impressive selection of local brews. Asheville is just 35 minutes away. (If you don't want to drive — and why would you? — Uber operates in the area.) Get tapas at Cúrate. Or take advantage of Asheville's craft-beer boom and grab a burger and sour ale at Wicked Weed, one of the town's 22 breweries. —darren dahl
Fly into Asheville Regional Airport (direct flights from Chicago, New York, and Atlanta). Or fly to Greenville-Spartanburg or Charlotte and drive one to two scenic hours to Brevard.