Yancey Ridge S24O

  • Distance

    37 Mi.

    (60 KM)
  • Days


  • % Unpaved


  • % Singletrack


  • Difficulty (1-10)


  • % Rideable (time)


  • Total Ascent


    (1,463 M)
  • High Point


    (1,379 M)
An overnighter that follows Wilson Creek, climbs through Lost Cove, and traverses the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Beacon Heights... all before dropping in to the epic Yancey Ridge downhill. A quick Pisgah getaway for mountain bikers coming from Charlotte or the Piedmont.
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Western North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest can be a dense and foreboding place. This is certainly the case amidst the quagmire of rhododendron-choked trails in the Grandfather District. Nevertheless it is an undeniably beautiful place that deserves attention from a bikepacking perspective. The southern slopes of Grandfather Mountain are difficult to traverse, not just because of the rugged terrain, but also due to the land use restrictions levied on a 12,846 acre tract at the heart of the district—The Lost Cove and Harper Creek Wilderness Study Areas. Foreshadowing its future Wilderness designation, all of the trails in this area allow only hiking and/or horseback riding. However there is a nice single lane forest service road that traverses this area and enables a perfect sub-24 hour loop.

In a nutshell this loop starts by following the Wilson Creek National Wild and Scenic River, then climbs Pineola Road through Lost Cove to access the Yancey Ridge Trail via additional FSRs and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Although this route is short, don’t underestimate the difficulty of the singletrack section from Beacon Heights down. It’s a beautiful section of trail, but at times can be very technical.

Note that while most of the photos were taken on a recent trip, several are from a similar trip in the late fall of 2013.

  • Highlights


  • Must Know


  • Camping


  • Food/H2O


  • The peaceful 5 mile warmup following the Wild and Scenic Wilson Creek.
  • Pineola Road makes for a beautiful one-lane gravel climb through the Lost Cove Wilderness.
  • A stellar campsite on the Little Lost Cove Cliffs. (*see Must Know)
  • The not-to-be-taken-lightly downhill from Beacon Heights in to the Yancey Ridge trail.
  • Epic views of the backside of Grandfather Mountain.
  • Parking is free and safe at the Wilson Creek Visitor Center.
  • The downhill coming off Beacon Heights is rugged, to say the least. If you are not an accomplished downhill rider, be prepared for some hike-a-bike.
  • It’s worth noting that it’s arguable whether the trail coming down off of Beacon Heights (mile 22.7-24.8) allows mountain bikes; it’s not marked, but if this is a concern, follow these directions from mile 22 to parallel the Beacon Heights Trail and connect with Yancey Ridge: turn right on Carroll Gragg Rd; at three-way intersection, follow middle path on Yancey Ridge Trail.
  • This route could potentially be ridden all year, but between April and November is ideal; snow and/or ice could be an issue in the winter.
  • *Little Lost Cove Cliffs is only accessible via a short non-bike trail, so if you plan on indulging in the campsite, be prepared to carry your bike. It’s about a half mile from the road to access the campsite.
  • There are plenty of backcountry camping opportunities after you drop in at Beacon Heights.
  • There are three completely different campsites highlighted on the map; one roadside site, one rock ledge in the backcountry, and the 3 available sites at Little Lost Cove Cliffs.
  • The showstopper is the one on Little Lost Cove Cliffs. However, if you plan on visiting on a weekend or holiday, be prepared to change plans if it is occupied.
  • There are plenty of springs and water on route. Bring a filter.
  • There is only one resupply on the route, at the beginning/end in Edgemont.
  • There are black bears in the area; bring a bear line to hang your food.

Terms of Use: As with each bikepacking route guide published on BIKEPACKING.com, should you choose to cycle this route, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road closures. While riding, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow the #leavenotrace guidelines. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this route, associated GPS track (GPX and maps), and all route guidelines were prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. BIKEPACKING.com LLC, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individual riders cycling or following this route.

  • David Negreiro

    Can I help provide some northeast routes?

  • Hi David. Shoot me an email… let’s chat: pedalingnowhere at gmail

  • The trips 1 day 1 night 1 night, are amazing.

  • It’s incredible what you can do in 24 hours… in your own backyard!

  • David Wildman

    Any suggestions on adding miles to make this a 3 day, 2 night loop

  • Ryan S

    Cool route, used to live over that way. You know Beacon Heights is not a legal MTB trail, right?

  • You could park at the pullout on 1362 at the Woodruff Trailhead, then Woodruff > Upper Wilson Ridge > Schoolhouse Ridge trail (not road) > Eddgemont. Then on the way back take Edgemont Road back to woodruff… kind of an odd shaped loop…

  • Hmm, it’s not marked; locals told me to walk to Beacon heights (a couple hundred yards) until it splits off and drops in. If that’s the case, maybe I should reroute it on Carrol Cragg Rd.?

  • Doug Nielsen

    Thank God you didn’t feed any squirrels!

  • Doug Nielsen

    Pretty sure it’s legal trail primarily used for hiking. Mountain biking is not excluded–just not one of the main uses. You’re good.

  • Doug Nielsen

    You went full suspension on this trip… any particular reason why?

  • Hi Doug. I had a chance to test the new Salsa Pony Rustler, so I am putting some miles on it… a really cool bike; completely different.

  • Doug Nielsen

    Oh man hopefully you’ll do a review! I got the deadwood based off of your review of that and I love it.

  • Matt M.

    It is often overlooked but I’m pretty sure Salsa changed the name to Donkey Toucher.

  • Zach Morrow

    You could continue along Wilson Ridge > Lower Wilson Ridge > Br. Mtn Road > Craig Cr. Road > Sinkhole > hwy 181 > Greentown > Raiders. That is about the longest route I have been able to put together. ~70miles

  • David Wildman

    Zach, thanks for the suggestions. Just before I got your response I put this together. Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated. New to the upstate/NC area and wanting as much single or double track dirt as possible: http://docs.google.com/a/fullypacked.org/document/d/1RRIIJYA0SjgKS1O2hUWAySnKEaMWef9vX4oo6hjMU1A/edit?usp=sharing

  • Michael Lowther

    Can’t wait to do this route, Wilson’s Creek is right in my backyard. Anyway I can help create some routes in the area?

  • Whoops, missed this comment… sorry about that!! Let me know about your routes! pedalingnowhere[at]gmail[dot]com

  • Jeremy

    Is there any chance this trail could be completed on a gravel bike/ all road bike, without complete destruction or rims? Or is the terrain to technical during the single track?

  • I wouldn’t. There are some gnarly bits in there from the parkway down.

  • Josh Tucker

    I just did this route, along with the nearby “two gorges gravel” route, after staying in Boone nc this past week. Just wanted to say thanks to Logan and this site for providing some really valuable and detailed info about these routes. I did each one as a single day, and needless to say, was totally spent by the end of them. The Pisgah area is such a beautiful place to ride, and I will certainly return to do some more back country exploring. I’m currently training to to the great divide in June, and these two routes were just what I needed in terms of plenty of non-pavement ascent. Thanks again, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for any other routes that get posted for that area!

  • Cool, thanks Josh!!

  • John Woodward

    Assuming the Beacon Heights section is bypassed via Caroll Gragg Road, how tech is the rest of the Yancey Ridge Trail? I’d be on a rigid 26. Thanks.

  • The bottom gets a little squirrel, but the most of it isn’t too tech at all.