Top 10 Places to Visit in North Carolina by Bike

Top 10 Places to Visit in North Carolina by Bike

Adrian Ciocirlan

True wilderness or a city break? You don’t need to decide now.

Follow us in this new journey and find out if you want to test your endurance or have a relaxing family trip. We think both are possible. Not the same time, of course!

1. Asheville

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Asheville offers the ultimate experience on wheels for road and mountain bikers alike.

You can choose from many different tours, the one perfect for you. We selected only three, the ones we are most attractive.

First one is very cute! It’s called Velo Girl Rides and is a beautifully packaged cycling tours that are so fully supported, and the nice thing is that the staff does everything except for pedaling for you. This posh tour is followed by a luxury van and trailer which carry spare parts, spare bikes, snacks, chairs, tables, tents, and sometimes even the cyclist if you need to hop in the van. Ride like a celebrity, baby!

Cycle to Farm is another series of group rides designed to promote Asheville’s local foods and farms. 63 miles of country roads with a total elevation gain of 5,300 feet bring you a good climb and good food. With stops every 10-15 miles, you can enjoy some delicious farm fresh fare. Spear some energy also for  Kolo Bike Park if you like to try it! Four miles of purpose-built mountain bike flow trails right smack on the edge of downtown Asheville.

2. Blue Ridge Parkway

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Welcome to the one of the most scenic routes in America. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs north and south from Asheville with plenty of spots for roadside picnics and breathtaking vistas and up-close views of the Appalachian Highlands.  

The challenge for bikers riding here are the hilly topography and the changing weather conditions. The section of the Parkway that wraps around Asheville is fairly flat, although it is heavily traveled as a commuter route. It’s the same thing if you bike the Parkway north or south out of Asheville, you will be greeted by a long and strenuous climb of 3,000 feet. This is a trail of constant change, uphill and downhill, within marvelous scenery, diverse and so rewarding. 

3. Charlotte

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From beautiful green spaces to a diverse selection of museums, tours and restaurants, Charlotte is a fun city to visit year-round.

Among Charlotte's many notable attractions, some of the most popular include the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL), the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Charlotte Independence of the United Soccer League (USL), two NASCAR Sprint Cup races and the NASCAR All-Star Race, the Wells Fargo Championship, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Charlotte Ballet, Carowinds amusement park, and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

As for biking, depends what you’re in the mood for. If you need a strong workout, go on the 25-mile loop just north of Charlotte that takes you through Huntersville and near the shores of lakes Norman and Mountain Island.

Another option is the Huntersville Business Park. If you want to make this ride together with your family, pick the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near Kings Blvd. It’s close to uptown and plenty wide to allow the whole family to have space.

Some more biking friendly options are, first - in the University area, Mallard Creek and Clarks Creek Greenways connect for a total of 7 miles of riding, and second - the 4 miles of bike path at McAlpine Greenway. This wide path will take you through McAlpine Park.

4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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The country’s most visited National Park and one of the best places to visit in North Carolina  - MTB. Over 11.3 million visited this marvelous place in 2016.

The park offers great opportunities for exploring and discovering both the natural and cultural history of these ancient mountains.

You will find here a very interesting fauna from black bears to salamanders, and fabulous landscapes from old-growth forests to spring wildflowers.

Bicycles are allowed on most roads within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, due to heavy traffic, steep terrain, and narrow roads with limited pull-offs, many of the roads in the park simply aren't conducive for safe and enjoyable cycling. Only experienced riders, using extreme caution, should attempt to ride most of the main roads in the Smokies.

However, bicycles are allowed on the Gatlinburg Trail, the Oconaluftee River Trail and the lower Deep Creek Trail. Bicycles are prohibited on all other park trails.

Also, you have to know that are many other options in immediate areas surrounding the park. Cades Cove Loop Road, for example, with excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife and touring 19th century homesteads.  Or Townsend Bicycle Path – “Peaceful side of the Smokies”. Another one is Lakeview Drive, the "Road to Nowhere", a moderate ride with great views of Fontana Lake and the Southern Appalachians.

Our last recommendation is the ultimate challenge for strong and experienced cyclists: Gatlinburg to Newfound Gap.

Whatever trail you choose, for mountain biking, the comfort on the saddle is essential. Check out Bikeroo's Universal Oversized Bike Saddle with a pressure-relieving profile and spring support. 

5. Elizabeth City

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A wonderful community that has been named one of the “100 Best Small Towns in America” and is ranked by Money Magazine as "one of best places to live on the East Coast." 

Situated in the northeastern corner of North Carolina on the Pasquotank River and Intracoastal Waterway, the City is rich in history yet progressive and growing.

What would you say to ride along the historic side of the city or take a relaxing break in the middle of nature?

Go on Historic Route – 2.75 miles round-trip that takes you on a circular jaunt through the city’s historic commercial and residential neighborhoods with Queen Anne, Eastlake, Craftsman, and Colonial Revival style homes build in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

If you take it on Knobbs Creek Route – 2.4 miles round-trip - you’ll enjoy lovely views of the Pasquotank River on nearly half of your journey. This out-and-back ride is a great choice if you want to include your family. On River View Route – 7.2 miles, you’ll pedal through aptly named Riverside and Rivershore neighborhoods with the water in view for the majority of the ride. The ride will cross two parks where you can stop to relax for a while.

If you want a more wilderness-oriented path, ride on Dismal Swamp Canal Trail – 6.0 miles round-trip - a paved pathway that parallels the eastern border of the Dismal Swamp State Park. You can rent bikes for you and your kids here.

6. Cape Hatteras National Seashore

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The landscape has been shaped by wind, water, and storms, and the islands are constantly changing. A great destination for long, relatively easy rides on the flat landscape stretching 72 miles down the coast of North Carolina.

There is only one real hill in the whole seashore area, and that is the man-made humpback bridge spanning Oregon Inlet, so you don’t have to have quads of steel to cycle here.

This vacation can be a biking/camping one, cycling from campground to campground and enjoying the attractions and restaurants around them before moving on to the next one. Heading to or from Ocracoke Island, cyclists enjoy making a passage on the ferries, and this cost only $3.00.

Although Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a good biking destination, sometimes you can be slowed down by wind and traffic.

7. Hanging Rock State Park

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Enjoy the spectacular views, clear streams and waterfalls.

Since it was created as a 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps project, Hanging Rock State Park offers hikers and campers a terrific outdoor experience.

Mountain bikers could ride 8.4 miles of mountain biking trails and rock climbing opportunities with permit. If you decide to park your bike for a while, you have 20 miles of hiking trails to climb in this marvelous scenery. 

8. Grandfather Mountain

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We are in the front of an icon in North Carolina’s landscape for generations, offering stunning scenery and unmatched ecological diversity.

“Grandpa” puts you on test, because is known for some of the South’s most severe weather and challenging terrain. Take your bike for a ride up to the mountain, then change it for another challenge: hike to the top.

The views are truly spectacular. Grandfather Mountain has 11 trails varying in difficulty from a gentle walk in the woods to a rigorous trek across rugged peaks. It is in the backcountry of Grandfather Mountain State Park that you come up against the more challenging hikes.

9. Cherohala Skyway

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Feeling strong, in the shape to test you endurance? Then, say YES to Cherohala Challenge!

You will start at Tellico Plains at the Visitor’s center. By the way, that 318 curves in 11 miles aren’t for anyone! And if the wind blows from the opposite direction, it will be a little bit harder. But your iron muscles will do it. The valley is nice and rolling and the Dragon’s Tail it is also a pleasant ride.

The top of the Tail enter North Carolina around mile 54. At around mile 72 you will entered the Cherohala Skyway. The road undulates until the finish back at the Visitor’s Center with a total of 116 miles. But, Cherohala Skyway is a huge grind and it’s not that steep. And the views are breathtaking.

If the ride is harsh, and we are pretty sure this won’t stop up, your comfort on your bike you be 100%! We recommend Bikeroo Saddle for Men, one of the most comfortable bike seat that will help you enjoy riding your bike more.  

10.The Biltmore Estate

 

Need more rooms at your home? Vanderbilt Mansion is the largest private home in the United States and one of North Carolina's must-see attractions in Asheville.

The mansion has 250 rooms with impressive artwork, antiques, and architecture. You should also plan to walk through the gardens and River Bend Farm.

If you are visiting Biltmore, you can explore the estate from a different perspective on the many miles of biking trails. Choose from the well-marked woodland trails for a more challenging ride, or take a leisurely ride on the paved trail along the French Broad River. Don’t need your bike, because here you can rent one, even a tandem bike or a mountain bike for a price that varies between 15 – 50 $.

Ready to hop on your bike to conquer North Carolina? We hope so. But, don’t forget to tell us your favorite places discovered here! We are so curious what are your must-ride places.