If you're looking for a backcountry trail experience but don't want to go too far out of Fayetteville, check out the trails on Mt Kessler. More fit and experienced riders will find technical riding with climbs/descents and tight singletrack.
Parking is not available at the trailhead. Your best option is to park at the old smokehouse (Fayettechill building) and ride up the road past the Sharp house.
Ride up the road from the old smokehouse and look for the Mt Kessler trailhead on the right. It's marked by a big kiosk with a sign in sheet. Pedal through the gate and start a short but steep climb up Rock City
. The grade mellows out but is still steady. On the approach to the gigantic boulders you get a feel for the rocky and rooty terrain of Mt Kessler.
You'll warm up fast with some technical moves over rocks. Enjoy the quick slot through the big boulders and then navigate a quick uphill rock garden before climbing to eaier singletrack. From here, you get a respite of easy pedaling through a more open and wide corridor. This section ends with a sharp left going steeply uphill. Settle in on more rocks and roots to get to the Fire Pit, the main intersection on the top of the mountain.
Follow the signs for Trent
and head south on Trent
. You'll have a chance to catch your breath here as you cruise on this relatively flat trail through tall trees and grassy understory.
Stay left to start a moderately technical descent on Crazy Mary
down the east side of Mt Kessler. The first part of the downhill a bit chattery over broken rocks and steps with plenty of roots. The trail eventually transitions to shorts up and downs, making its way to a scenic overlook.
Stop to take a peek out of the tree canopy and then continue the route across flatter terrain, staying left and then right at two unmarked intersections. Stay left at the signed intersection to start the climb up Serpentine
Settle in for a steady pedal through a series of easy climbing switchbacks back up to the Fire Pit.
Head towards Egg-Beater
and Western Myth
, staying right and descending to Spellbound
, one of the highlights of the ride.
Once you finish the descent from Western Myth
you'll get to a major cliff band. The route runs along the top of a big cliff and below a smaller cliff. There are short technical sections over rocks and through trees intermixed with quick sections of singletrack. Remember to stop once in a while to take in some of the views out to the west.
At the far south end, Spellbound
starts the big climb back up to Trent
. Be sure to catch Wino, a spur out and back to an old wine cellar.
At the top, retrace your steps across Trent
to the Fire Pit. To finish the ride descend Rock City
, enjoying a steady downhill through unique and beautiful terrain.