“A great endurance ride with lots of climbing. An alternate climb to the top of Heartbreak Ridge.”
— Marcus Barton on Apr 9, 2014
RestrictionsOld Mitchell Toll Road is closed for bikes during bear hunting season per the signs posted at Sourwood Gap, typically September through mid December
OverviewThis starts out with a paved, warmup ride of Old US 70 followed by a ton of doubletrack climbing. Then, you'll experience the Rattlesnake Ridge climb with steep doubletrack. Take a quick break at the top to enjoy the view, then continue your endurance ride by riding part of history, the Old Mitchell Toll Road. Lots of it is covered in river stone, so settle in and get used to riding rocks. Nothing super-technical, but just rocks for a ways.
You'll summit at the top of the famed Heartbreak Ridge which begins as a technical, steep downhill. You'll be grinning from ear to ear all the way down Heartbreak Ridge and then Star Gap. You'll finish your ride with an easy, cool-down paved ride of Mill Creek road back to your start.
Need To KnowLike many Pisgah area rides, it is recommended that you know the trails before venturing out. Since signage is a minimum, it is best to take a copy of the ride map and a GPS with you. Again: Rattlesnake and part of the toll road is private property, so 'mind yer manners'.
DescriptionThis ride starts at the Old Fort picnic area at the bottom of the Kitsuma trail. You ride up Old US-70 (paved, warmup climb) to the top (near the interstate). At the top, take a right and ride down the road to the Ridgecrest convention center. Check in with the guard at the gate (and sign a waiver if necessary, not to mention be super polite). Rattlesnake and part of the toll road is private property, so 'mind yer manners'. Then head up their paved road (road just outside the gate) and take it up (keeping left) until you get to the tennis courts. You'll pickup the trailhead past the tennis courts. From there you end up on the Rattlesnake Ridge trail. This portion of the trail is VERY steep and rocky. It is not an easy ride, but is rideable.
Take it up to the Rattlesnake summit. It'll T-bone with the summit to your left and take a right to the Old Mitchell Toll Road which is a mix of doubletrack and singletrack. Take that trail alllll the way to top of Heartbreak Ridge. Signs are sparse and there are offshoots, so having a GPS with you is recommended. Ride Heartbreak Ridge all the way down to Star Gap. Hanging a right on Star Gap will take you across the railroad tracks and dumps out onto Mill Creek Road. Ride Mill Creek Road back to the park (nice cool down).
Like many Pisgah area rides, it is recommended that you know the trails before venturing out. Since signage is a minimum, it is best to take a copy of the ride map and a GPS with you.
History & BackgroundThe Mt. Mitchell Railroad and Logging Company was started in 1914 when a route for a narrow gauge switchback railroad started about one mile east of Black Mountain and ran to about 3/4 mile from the top of Mt. Mitchell, where Camp Alice was built for the loggers to live. The purpose of this railroad was to log balsam trees for building airplanes in support of World War I. The balsam logs were brought from Mt. Mitchell to a sawmill located just beyond what is now the entrance to the Old Toll Road. The railroad was at times used as a tourist attraction but its primary purpose was logging. The logging operation prospered until the end of the war and it was no longer profitable. The railroad was converted to a toll motor road. The motor road became one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area. It was not unusual for 150 cars a day to make the trip. It was a one way road, up by 11 AM and down by 4 PM.
ContactsLand Manager: USFS - Pisgah National Forest, Pisgah Ranger District
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