Ride the List of Awesome Bicycle Trails near the Nantahala River

by | Bryson City, Nantahala National Forest, Nantahala River

When the weather warms around the Nantahala River Gorge, it’s time to pull out those bicycles collecting dust all winter long, and go on a biking adventure. Feel the endorphins kick in on the uphill climb, and the wind in your face on the downhill runs; hold your bike steady, spread your arms, and feel the freedom of a warm summer day. Take a morning bike ride, then book a white water rafting trip with Carolina Outfitters to cool off.  We have provided a list of our favorite awesome bicycle trails near the Nantahala River you’ll want to check-out!

Fire Mountain bike trail Cherokee, NC biker with blue mountains behind.

Deep Creek Trail

Deep Creek Bike Trail Bryson City NC

We’ll start you off easy with a beginner trail at Deep Creek near Bryson City, North Carolina. The trail is just one mile long and can blow the rust off your bicycle skills. Horseback riders and hikers also use these trails. Parking fees are in force at Deep Creek, so make sure you buy a daily, weekly, or one-year parking pass to enjoy all the adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Tsali Recreation Area

Tsali Trail near Bryson City

Tsali boasts four singletrack loops for mountain biking that run along Fontana Lake: Right Loop, Left Loop, Thompson Loop, and Mouse Branch Loop. All courses are intermediate to moderately difficult. The bike and horse trails alternate, so make sure to pick a bike day before heading out on the trails.

Fire Mountain Trail System

biker on wooden deck at Fire Mountain trail in Cherokee NC

Fire Mountain in Cherokee, North Carolina has five trails for you to enjoy biking: Fire Tower, Kessel Run, Lazy Elk, SpearFinger, Uktena. This tribal designed trail system is multipurpose for biking, hiking, and running. No matter what you prefer, the views of the Great Smoky Mountains are a highlight of your biking adventure.

Jackrabbit Mountain

Jack Rabbit trail. mountain bike near tree

This is a relatively new biking trail quickly gaining popularity. It runs along Lake Chatuge near Hayesville, NC and has some mild uphill climbs. Beginner and intermediate riders will enjoy this bike ride. Hikers also use the Jackrabbit Mountain Trail, so be aware of your surroundings.

Swinging Bridge Loop

Swinging bridge over river in Needmore, NC

This awesome bike ride starts on Lower Needmore Road, off of Highway 28 South, at the Brush Creek Baptist church. Ride down to the swinging bridge, cross it, take a left onto Needmore Road, cross the Tellico Bridge, turn left, ride Highway 28 going north for a bit, take a left onto Lower Needmore Road, and ride back to Brush Creek Baptist Church. It’s an easy loop to do with some moderate uphill climbs. You will bike on pavement for some of the way on a curvy road with traffic. If you want to skip the curvy road, turn around at the Tellico Bridge and head back the way you came. The ride along the Little Tennessee River is worth it.

Winding Stairs Mountain

bike on a path in Nantahala near river

This trail is actually at the foot of the Winding Stairs Mountain in the Nantahala Gorge. It’s an easy trail the whole family can enjoy riding a bicycle on with beautiful views of the Nantahala River. Nothing too strenuous, just a leisure bike ride to and from the rafting put-in. You can park at the base of Winding Stairs Mountain, or you can park at the put-in for white water rafting.

There are many biking trails in Western North Carolina and the Nantahala National Forest. The above are just a few, so read up on trails and pick one that’s just right for you and have a funtastic day.

Remember to book your white water rafting adventure with Carolina Outfitters before you leave!

Visit Great Smoky Mountains Official Bookstore for maps, books, and guides to the park.


Margaret Marr, is a local author of paranormal, mystery, and suspense laced with romance. She has written over 15 books available on Amazon. 


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