2 - 3
FATMAP difficulty grade
This loop is a local favorite and mostly paved, but has just enough gravel to warrant some wider tires.
If you're confident with your handling, a burly 700x28 may suffice, but a 700x32 is probably a better place to start.
This route is nothing short of beautiful, offering views from both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Elk Mountain Scenic Highway.
Even better, most drivers are accustomed to bicycles riding this route - and there's even a bicycle repair station at the high point! As mapped, this route begins at [Youngblood Bicycles](https://www.youngbloodbicycles.com/) on Merrimon Avenue in North Asheville.
There are plenty of ways to start off the loop, but this is their favorite and comes recommended by the owner of the store himself.
For other questions, including scheduled group rides that depart from Youngblood, you can reach them by phone at 828-251-4686. The loop part of the route is arguably best counter-clockwise.
It begins with a steady climb on pavement, then transitions to gravel as you get further up Webb Cove Road.
There is one "Y" in the road, where you'll want to keep right - look for the sign that says "To The Blue Ridge Parkway." After a winding, but gentle climb up the gravel, you'll reach Craven Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
If you're looking for a shorter ride, you could keep right on Town Mountain Road.
It will drop you off on Charlotte Street just a few minutes from the shop.
To continue this loop, keep left on the Blue Ridge Parkway as it makes its way northeast towards Mount Mitchell. Just a few minutes up, you'll pass the Tanbark Ridge Overlook, arguably one of the best overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville.
It's a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset, and the only official overlook that you'll pass while you're on the Parkway.
Worth noting, there's also a trash can if you need one for any reason. Not long after, turn left on Ox Creek Road.
After a short yet steep push, you'll reach Elk Mountain Scenic Highway.
The road rolls up and down for a while but eventually begins to trend downhill.
At the high point, there's even a bicycle repair station with tools - a pleasant surprise considering how far you are from town! After that, the rest of the ride is downhill.
Elk Mountain is full of views, but make sure you keep your eyes on the road too! The road sees far less traffic than the Blue Ridge Parkway, and many of the local residents on the mountain are accustomed to seeing bicycles and tend to be quite courteous.