4 routes · Road Biking
Blue Ridge Parkway: Pisgah Region
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The southernmost section of the Blue Ridge Parkway including Waterrock Knob, Black Balsam Knob, Graveyard Fields, Mount Pisgah, Asheville, Craggy Gardens, and Mount Mitchell.
Road Biking Difficult
- 213 km
- 4.9 km
- 5.4 km
- 1 day +
- Low Point
- 612 m
- High Point
- 1.9 km
Spanning two states, the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) is the longest linear park in the United States, linking Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the NC/TN border. The Pisgah Region of the Blue Ridge Parkway connects the Crabtree Falls Picnic Area to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Passing through the heart of Pisgah, this portion of the roadway is arguably the most challenging — but the most scenic. Key highlights include Mount Mitchell, Craggy Gardens, Biltmore Estate, Mount Pisgah, Graveyard Fields, and Waterrock Knob, among others. This portion of the BRP also reaches its highest point, just over 6,000' along the slopes of Richland Balsam.
The Mountains to Sea Trail, North Carolina's premier thru-hiking trail, also follows the same corridor as the BRP through this section. Remember, neither road nor mountain bikes are allowed on any trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
As mapped, this section begins at Crabtree Falls Picnic Area & Campground, just before you reach Mount Mitchell. Though you could skip the spur to the highest peak east of the Mississippi River — Mount Mitchell — there's no good reason to, even on tired legs! The State Park does not require an entry fee, and they offer a seasonal concession stand and restaurant so that you can refuel during the warmer months. Again, availability and hours are significantly limited during the winter. For current hours, weather, and other information about Mount Mitchell State Park, please refer to one of the two following phone numbers:
Office: 828-675-4611 Restaurant: 828-675-1888
If a long gravel ride is more your style, consider this loop, an epic all-day ride from Asheville to Mount Mitchell.
As you descend into the valley, Asheville has several miles of Parkway that pass through what locals named the “commuter section.” Depending who you ask, it’s from Brevard Road (191) near Bent Creek to Tunnel Road in east Asheville. While riding this section is a popular choice among locals, it’s not particularly scenic and sees more traffic than other sections in the mountains. It is, however, extremely convenient for cyclists and can get you across town with ease!
From here, the remaining miles are never easy. Crossing the French Broad River, the roadway climbs up towards Mount Pisgah, then wanders its way into the Great Balsam Mountains. The views are simply stunning, but at a cost to your legs. Water, snacks, and other basic necessities are available at Mount Pisgah and Waterrock Knob — typically between April and October.
Heading further into the mountains, you'll pass Graveyard Fields, Black Balsam Knob, and then make the final push to Richland Balsam — the highest point on the roadway. After a speedy descent and grueling climb into the Plott Balsams, Waterrock Knob rounds out the Blue Ridge Parkway with one final high-mountain overlook. A short hike leads to the summit, though the views from the parking lot are equally rewarding.
There are four Visitor Centers along this 129-mile stretch of roadway: Craggy Gardens, Folk Art Center, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Waterrock Knob.
Camping is available within Mount Mitchell State Park and the Mount Pisgah Campground, or you could book a stay at the iconic Pisgah Inn, open since 1919. They offer dining options, a country store, and of course, plenty of overnight accommodations.
Milepost 340 - Milepost 469
Click here to view bicycling regulations on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Sources: National Park Service Blue Ridge Parkway Association