“Great all-mountain riding in Boone, NC”
— Paul Stahlschmidt on Jun 5, 2013
Overview0:34 average ride time for 3.0 miles. Details
Rocky Knob Park (RKP) is a 185-acre county park located just east of the town of Boone, NC. With over nine miles of trail (including four skills areas), Rocky Knob contains some of the most beautiful, unique, destination-quality MTB terrain around.
Need To KnowThere are no beginner trails at RKP. Rocky Branch, the easiest trail, is rated moderate. A direction of travel is posted with biking and hiking encouraged in opposite ways. Signage at all intersections suggests the bike and hike direction. Skills areas have their own separate rating system. In addition to the trails and skills areas, this park has other nice amenities including a community shelter and adventure playground. A pump track will also soon be constructed near the parking area.
DescriptionRKP lives up to its name - it’s rocky. The mountain itself has stone features all over it, ranging from scree and boulder fields to slabs and small cliffs. The trails cross all of these areas, and as a result, nearly the entire trail surface contains some form of rock.
Rocky Branch (2.6 mi.) has the least elevation gain, and includes some spots where surface material was added. But this trail does have some punchy technical areas and the rugosity of the tread is not smooth; thus it’s moderate rating. Many of the mountain’s springs dump out at this lower elevation, so the climb up sees a few armored sections and culvert-style bridges. At the second powerline crossing you’ll find the Jump Start skills area, and just beyond that will be Middle Earth.
Middle Earth (1 mi.) rises up the lower of the two mountains to about 3580 ft. The trails in general get more difficult the higher up you go, and Middle Earth starts this change with steeper climbing and more loose rock. At the summit of this climb, you’ll be at “The Saddle,” crossing powerlines again. Nice views here. From this point, you can access PBJ, Skinny Skills, and Stone Binge skills areas. After a short descent past Stone Binge, Boat Rock starts by forking off to the right.
Boat Rock trail (3.6 mi.) is named after the large rock formation that it encircles, a name which volunteers came up with. The most difficult grunt of this trail is the leg up to the Rock itself. Beyond that, there are some bulkier rock gardens and a few elevated wooden bridges that travel around or over boulders. After 1.3 miles, there is an option to shorten the Boat Rock loop to 2.5 mi. by taking an optional “bailout” connector. Taking a hard left around a boulder at this spot, you’ll climb a bit and pass over two more wooden features on the last leg of this trail.
'Ol Hoss (.75 mi.) is dubbed in tribute to the late musician Doc Watson, a former resident of nearby Deep Gap, who referred to his first guitar by this name. The trail is .75 miles long, and skirts the summit of the mountain at 4,000 ft. (750 ft. from the parking lot). From the intersection with Middle Earth, the initial rise is not much steeper than what you've been climbing, but as you approach the last leg to the top, you'll see the side-slope rising up and the trail crisscrossing it above you. The next few turns are tighter than any switchbacks on the trails below. The boulders at the top and a large warning sign will let you know you are done climbing. The downhill on 'Ol Hoss needs to be ridden with caution on the first pass. There are mandatory drops/obstacles, and alternate lines are more difficult than the main line. Time to get your game face on from this spot and go DOWN!
'Ol Hoss merges again with Boat Rock trail and passes through beautiful forest and more rock gardens. Eventually, you are back in the Saddle again. There are several ways to get down including this featured route which takes the PBJ skills trail. The Stone Binge skills area and Middle Earth trail provide other ways down. Any way you chose, from the top of 'Ol Hoss to the parking lot you'll lose approximately 760 feet in elevation, in nearly 3 miles of descending.
PBJ is named for Pump, Berm, Jump, and that’s what it is! It is sculpted into features that skilled riders can air out and not-so skilled can roll and still enjoy a nice plummet down. There are a few bigger veins of rock of course (it’s Rocky Knob), so be ready to encounter bumps in places. Optional lines are marked, but look well ahead for the line that suits your level. Black rating is for the optional lines and the consequences that can happen at speed.
You’ll be on the final piece of this featured ride when you merge again with Rocky Branch near the bottom of the mountain. After hitting the last berm and rolling into the rhododendron tunnel, remain on high alert because you'll merge with the entrance trail just after that.
History & BackgroundIn April 2009, Watauga County Tourism Development Authority (WCTDA) began exploring the feasibility of using 130 acres of county property behind the old Watauga County Landfill for recreation, and specifically, Mountain Biking. After site visits and initial consults from professional trailbuilders, official news of RKP was officially released to the public in Oct. '09 when Watauga County Commissioners announced the purchase of an additional 50 acres adjacent to the existing land.
Boone Area Cyclists (BAC), a 501c3 non-profit was formed about the same time. BAC and WCTDA worked together over the entirety of the project, with BAC helping with planning and funding, and also orchestrating the 3,500+ volunteer hours used in construction.
Groundbreaking took place in June 2010 and the trails started rolling out soon after that: Rocky Branch (opened May ‘11), Middle Earth (July ‘11), Lower Boat Rock and all Skills Areas (April ‘12), Upper Boat Rock (June ‘12), 'Ol Hoss (Aug. ‘12).
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