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While the previous version of Cantrell Creek was a local favorite, the Forest Service approved a full reroute/rebuild in 2019 to protect a native brook trout and hellbender habitat.
The result: a machine built flow trail with berms, jumps, deep in the heart of Pisgah.
This loop could be considered moderately challenging by local standards, but may be significantly more difficult if you aren't familiar with mountain biking in Pisgah.
This loop begins at the Turkey Pen Trailhead, nearly halfway between Brevard and Mills River.
The lot can fill up early during busy season, so get an early start to ensure you'll have a space to park.
There are a few spaces for cars at the bottom of the road, but only on weekends or after school hours.
Starting from the parking lot, head left of the kiosk to begin with a short descent to the river with several water bars.
This is a popular equestrian area, so be especially mindful of other trail users.
At the bottom, cross the bridge and stay on South Mills River Trail.
The most common way to ride this loop is to climb Mullinax to Squirrel Gap, which leads to the top of Cantrell.
Squirrel Gap is an anomaly in Pisgah—rather than reclaimed logging or fire roads, it's hand-built singletrack, and some of the best around! After passing Poundingmill (not bike friendly), continue up Squirrel to Cantrell.
You will pass a couple of fresh mountain springs if you need any water, just be sure to filter it first. At the top of Cantrell, put your shock and fork in party mode and enjoy the fast and flowing descent that is quickly becoming a classic ride in Pisgah.
At the bottom, keep left and follow South Mills River Road back to the trailhead.