FATMAP difficulty grade
Lesser visited than much of Pisgah National Forest, Big Ivy is home to a surprisingly extensive network of trails.
While not everything is open to mountain biking, both Walker Creek and Staire Creek make this one of the top rides for locals.
Just a short drive from Barnardsville, the trailhead lies along the Big Ivy Road before the first Forest Service gate.
A small gravel lot serves as the main parking area, and several pull-offs along the road make for alternatives.
Begin the ride by climbing up Big Ivy Road.
Only open seasonally to vehicles, it is the only way to access the downhills by bike.
In the summer months, shuttling becomes a possibility.
When the gate is open, multiple campsites along the road also make for great overnight opportunities. Despite being a gravel road, the climb is relentless.
Several steep pitches line the way as the road parallels a stream before turning to hug the elevation contours on its way up.
The climb passes by several picturesque waterfalls which serve as great opportunities to cool off on a hot, muggy summer day.
After a brief descent along "the wall," the road continues to climb, passing the trailhead for Walker Creek.
This is the other popular downhill trail at Big Ivy. Though your legs will likely be screaming for a break, not much separates you from the Staire Creek descent.
In contrast to the Walker Creek descent, Staire Creek is incredibly steep and technical.
Water bars reminiscent of stairs line the way.
Even experienced riders have been known to walk portions of the trail when they're not on top of their game.
Know that if you dismount, there are very few opportunities to get back atop your bike and you may have to walk a ways to find a good spot. After a bone-chattering descent, the trail merges into Walker Creek.
Some maps refer to this portion as (lower) Stair Creek, but the trailhead sign officially denotes it as Walker Creek. The lower portion of the descent is open and rocky, with one major creek crossing that will require you to dismount.
Know that after a recent rain, high waters may require you to get your feet wet.
After dumping out onto a gravel road, take a right to return to the trailhead.