Two Gorges Gravel Loop
An epic adventure loop showcasing the beauty of both the Linville and Wilson Creek Gorges.
Mountain Biking Easy
- 116 km
- 2.1 km
- 2.1 km
- 1 day +
- Low Point
- 303 m
- High Point
- 1.2 km
Due to its popularity, this route is listed on several online sources, including bikepacking.com, where it has been contributed by Logan. You could begin this ride anywhere in Morganton, but the Greenway Trailhead and adjacent Ingles are the best option for safe and/or overnight parking. Fonta Flora Brewery is just minutes down the road too and it's noted that the owner is also a fellow bikepacking enthusiast - so be sure to stop in for a post-ride beer!
Roughly 50/50 split between paved and unpaved roads, this loop "was designed with three stretch of gravel in mind," Logan writes. Boasted as the Grand Canyon of North Carolina, the first leg of the rides makes a brutal climb up remote gravel along the western rim of Linville Gorge. The Pinnacle and Wiseman's View both offer incredible overlooks of the gorge and are accessible by car or truck through most of the year. Take note however, the road can be treacherous during the winter due to freeze and thaw cycles. Consider saving this loop for dry and/or warmer winter days, or keep to the summer and fall months for the best riding experience.
The next leg of the ride comes after skirting some paved roads around Linville Falls. If you have some hiking shoes and are not in a rush, consider this quick hike to multiple overlooks of the massive waterfall. According to Wikipedia, the main falls "has the highest volume of any waterfall on the Northern Edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains." The article continues by stating how "personnel at Linville Falls claim the massive waterfall was used by Native Americans to execute prisoners because surviving the plunge was considered impossible."
Pineola Road (FS-464) is the next notable leg of gravel, Logan continues. The road "descends almost 1,500 feet over 10 miles through Lost Cove Wilderness Study Area," then connects over to Brown Mountain Beach Road. This stretch of the ride passes through the beautiful Wilson Creek Gorge, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River that is popular among hikers, fisherman, paddlers, and more. According to Wikipedia, "Wilson Creek itself is a water system that originates in Calloway Peak and stretches for 23 miles before dumping into John's River." Prior to being settled in the mid-1700's, it "was once used by the Cherokee Indians as a summer hunting grounds."
Wilson Creek Gorge is also part of this loop through the heart of the Grandfather District.
Along the route, pit toilets are available at both Wiseman's View and the Linville Falls Visitor Center. Water is available throughout the route as long as you filter or treat it first. A cash-only convenience store is available in Mortimer if you need any additional supplies along the way. You'll also pass near a handful of small towns where a quick detour could offer running water, restrooms, and other convenience store options. Dispersed camping is also plentiful many of the gravel roads on this route.
Rounding out Logan's description, he writes that "the route is all rideable, and if it wasn't for the amount of climbing and steep sections along Old 105, it would be considered fairly easy."
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LinvilleFalls https://bikepacking.com/routes/two-gorges-gravel-s24o/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WilsonCreek(NorthCarolina) https://bikepacking.com/author/logan/
Mostly smooth and non-technical singletrack with unavoidable obstacles 2in/5cm tall or less. Avoidable obstacles may be present. Ideal for beginner riders.