4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
Located in the Grandfather District of Pisgah National Forest, this is *the* must-do gravel loop if you're looking for an adventure.
It can be done as a day trip or turned into an overnight bikepacking trip if that's more your style. As mapped, the ride begins at a large city park in Collettsville.
The advantage to starting here is that the parking lot is large, paved, patrolled by local police, and cell reception is usually still available, depending on your carrier.
You could also start the ride anywhere on Brown Mountain Beach Road if you don't mind foregoing those amenities.
A gas station is also located at the major crossroads in town if you need any food or water. Begin by heading southwest on Adako Road then turn right onto Murphy Place.
As you begin climbing, there is one intersection that is trickier than it would seem on a map.
The road on the map appears to go straight while, in reality, you will actually be taking a right.
From here, it's straightforward for the next ~20 miles. Maple Sally Road is roughly 18 miles long, winding, and never flat.
It also offers incredible views along the way—a rarity for many gravel loops in the region.
While it is open to vehicles, it sees very little traffic.
The Forest Service does not list any definitive closure date each year, though washouts and/or winter weather has been known to cause road closures throughout Pisgah. Maple Sally Road ends into a small community of houses, and then the road descends to NC-90, which is also unpaved.
Keep left and make your way into Mortimer.
A small country store is located on the corner, so bring a few bucks along so you can stop in for a mid-ride snack or drink. The route returns via Brown Mountain Beach Road, following Wilson Creek through its namesake gorge.
[According to Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilson_Creek_(North_Carolina)), "Wilson Creek itself is a water system that originates in Calloway Peak and stretches for 23 miles before dumping into John's River." It's also part of the Wild and Scenic River System and home to some of the best fishing and paddling in the region.
Prior to being settled in the mid-1700s, it "was once used by the Cherokee Indians as a summer hunting grounds," the article continues. Though extremely scenic, this portion of the ride is open to vehicles and parts of the road are too narrow for two cars to pass side by side.
Though negative encounters are rare between bikes and vehicles, be mindful of construction and/or logging vehicles that utilize the road regularly.
Though most of the route sees vehicles daily, this route is listed as *very remote* due to some of the quieter stretches of Maple Sally Road that are rarely visited.
Expect to remain completely autonomous, though know that some cell phones may have reception in very unsuspecting places. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilson_Creek_(North_Carolina)