If you’re a dedicated off-road bicycling fan, and you’re looking for scenic new spots to explore, load up your mountain bike and head to our western North Carolina mountains. If you’re already here, get ready to ride, because you’ve got three mountain biking hotspots not far from Murphy, NC.
Whether you’re an experienced mountain biker looking for new challenges, or are just dipping your toes into this addictive sport, you’ll find trails that match your skill level. Even better, most mountain biking trails include rest stops equipped with restrooms and picnic areas. So grab your bike and gear, and get ready to soak up some gorgeous views while you enjoy an energetic workout.
Cherokee County: Hanging Dog Recreation Area
Just five miles from downtown Murphy, you’ll find Hanging Dog Recreation Area, which borders beautiful Hiwassee Lake. This nearby destination is popular with day trippers and overnight campers, and also offers several mountain biking trails.
If you’ve racked up some previous mountain biking time, try the moderately difficult Ramsey Bluff Mountain Biking System. You’ll wind through eight miles of challenging trails, pedaling yourself silly while you burn some serious calories. On the plus side, you’ll be rewarded with enticing lake views.
Directions: From Murphy, drive roughly five miles on State Road (SR) 1326. Turn left onto SR 1447, and continue for about a mile. You’ll find parking and recreation facilities at the end of this road.
Graham County: Tsali Recreation Area
Mountain bikers nationwide flock to this well-known recreation area, named for a Cherokee Indian who once called this region home. Located in the Nantahala National Forest near Robbinsville, Tsali offers four moderately difficult mountain biking trails ranging from 4 to nearly 14 miles in length. Trails are open all year ’round, and the parking area is adjacent to restrooms.
Tsali’s single-track trails are hard packed from regular use, and they’re known for providing a fast, adrenaline-fueled ride. Depending on your chosen route, you might enjoy views of beautiful Fontana Lake or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during your trip. However, you shouldn’t encounter horses, as the narrow trails cater to mountain bikers and horseback riders on different days of the week.
Directions: From Robbinsville, drive east on State Highway 143 until you reach the Highway 28 junction. Turn right at the stop sign, and go south on Highway 28 for about 8.4 miles. The Tsali Recreation Area entrance will be on the north side (left) of the road, and has good signage. About 1.5 miles from the entrance, you’ll see a parking area, with a short walk to several trailheads.
Clay County: Jackrabbit Mountain Trails
At the other end of Nantahala National Forest, near Hayesville, you’ll find Jackrabbit Mountain campground. In 2011, mountain biking fans celebrated the opening of the 14-mile Jackrabbit mountain biking trail network, located a stone’s throw from the campground facilities.
Built expressly for mountain biking, the Jackrabbit trails collectively form a “stacked loop” configuration. The mostly fast trails wind along Lake Chatuge’s shores, and you’ll also travel your share of rolling hills. You’ll find easy trails catering to beginning riders and kids, while advanced mountain bikers will enjoy challenging climbs and rock features. However, you won’t have to contend with horses, as Jackrabbit’s trails are off limits to equine users.
Because Jackrabbit’s trails are located at a lower elevation with more sun exposure, you might work up a sweat during your warm-season rides. Pack plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. After you finish the trip, rejuvenate yourself at the trailhead’s picnic tables, and take advantage of the basic restroom facilities.
Directions: Start your trip in Murphy at the US Highway 19/74/129 intersection with US Highway 64 East (the new 64 Bypass). Travel US Highway 64 East for 18.9 miles. After you pass Hayesville, turn right on NC Highway 175 South.
Drive 0.9 miles, and turn right to stay on NC Highway 175, crossing a long one-lane concrete bridge over part of Lake Chatuge. Go 2.5 miles, and turn right onto Jack Rabbit Road. Drive 250 feet, and bear left to stay on Jack Rabbit Road. Look for the signed parking area on the left. You’ll also see the campground straight ahead, at the end of Jack Rabbit Road.
Learn More About These Mountain Biking Hotspots
For more details on these mountain biking destinations, plus other western North Carolina mountain biking hotspots, check out the United States Forest Service website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/nfsnc/recreation/bicycling/?recid=48112&actid=24.
With three enticing places to take your mountain bike, your biggest decision is which one to choose first. And after you conquer that challenge, travel back to Murphy, NC and swap stories and photos over a tasty dinner. Chances are, you’ll begin planning your next bike ride before you’re finished with dessert!
The Poltrock Team – REMAX Mountain Properties – Murphy NC – www.ilovemurphy.com – Call us Toll Free at 1-866-Murphy-NC or 1-866-687-7496 – Murphy’s #1 Real Estate Team