“The Jerdon Mountain Challenge Course 2017; ups and downs, switchbacks and singletrack, what more do you need!”
— Ben Morch
Race - Jul 28, 2018
This course takes you through Jarrett Creek Road - FSR 4030
, Star Gap
, Mill Creek, and Kitsuma Trail
. At about half the mileage, it has been called "ORAMM Lite".
This is true Pisgah territory with the roots, rocks, and plenty of singletrack to make you get angry at it and love it all at the same time. The descent down Star Gap
is fun but can be tricky and the famed Kitsuma Trail
can make your legs burn like no other. Bring plenty of water!!
Need to Know
Bring plenty of water in the summer. Try not to ride if it is wet. It gets slippery and dangerous in some sections when it's wet.
From the Mountain Gateway Museum, head to US 70 and head north (right). The beginning is a three-mile run on US 70 to a left on Curtis Creek Rd. A little bit of climbing involved along Curtis Creek, but it's easy. Next, take a left into a small parking area (for creek fishing?), over a creek and around the trail gate to start a five-mile climb on doubletrack - five full miles that gets steeper at the end.
This is followed by a roller coaster of hills with steep ups and downs along singletrack before getting to the base of Star Gap
. The base of Star Gap
only has a trail marker, but is a fairly obvious trail up the hill. The start of Star Gap
is a series of switchbacks that are tough for beginner and intermediates alike. It's only about two-plus miles, but it feels like a lot more. This will take you to the top of Star Gap
where it passes the end of Heartbreak Ridge
Keep going to begin the descending section of Star Gap
. It would be best for first time riders to take this slow as this is one of steepest sections of the race. It's fun, but a little slip could be dangerous. Very doable though, don't be scared about it.
Toward the bottom of Star Gap
, you'll descend a steep section (after the switchback section) over a large boulder and come to a clearing in the woods that looks like a good camping site. Follow the trail to the left, through a creek crossing, and over some train rails (watch for trains). Follow the trail about 100 yds or less to the road (Graphite Rd) and turn left where you'll be at the mid-way point of the race (Brookside Church).
Follow Graphite Road around the corner and head up Mill Creek Road (SR/FS1407)
for a three-mile climb up a gravel road. Another mile on-road pedal will get you to a left turn onto Rayl Gorge Road (before crossing over I-40) to the Kitsuma trailhead.
Kitsuma goes as such... 12 switchbacks on steep inclines (expect to walk at least some of this unless you are used to this type of torture). At the top of the 12th switchback is a split in the trail. You can go either way, but the race has you go right. Then it's mostly down hill for three miles. There are a couple of short and steep uphills mixed in, but it's doable. When you hit the base of this trail you'll be at the Old Fort Picnic Area.
Take a right onto old US-70 from the picnic area. Follow that for two miles and take a right on Orchard Street. Just after you hop off the tracks in the road, take a left onto Commerce Street. The race has you hop onto a short trail behind a warehouse building to get to the finish line.
For a casual ride, just follow Commerce Street to the Catawba Avenue and you should recognize the small town of Old Fort. Cross the street to the right and head back to the Mountain Gateway Museum.