FATMAP difficulty grade
Other than an out-and-back, this is *the* best way to form a loop with Curtis Creek Road.
Closed to traffic during parts of the winter and early spring, this gravel climb is rather steep, and lower gearing is a **must**, unless you prefer hiking your bike instead.
Ridden clockwise, this ride has a little bit of everything: quiet gravel roads, mountain streams, epic views on the Parkway, then ends with a tour along the Catawba River. This start/finish of this route is located *approximately* at the forest service gate at the bottom of Curtis Creek Road.
Even if the gate is closed, there is room for a couple of cars.
Both Marion and Old Fort have plenty of options to start this ride as well.
Near the gate, you'll find a placard denoting the area's significance as the first official tract of land acquired under the 1911 Weeks Act - the cornerstone of what is now Pisgah National Forest. After a grueling climb up Curtis Creek Road, most of this route is downhill, with only some gradual climbing near the end between Marion and Old Fort.
NC-80 is both paved and open to vehicles year-round, but cyclists frequently utilize the road to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Consider both front and rear lights to help with your visibility, since many drivers are tourists and may not be expecting to see a bicycle.
Commercial vehicles - including logging trucks - are a rare sight once you get past Lake Tahoma. If you're seeking a post-ride brew, head over to [Mica Town Brewing](https://www.micatownbrewing.com/) in Marion.
As of 2020, Old Fort is a "dry" town, and beer is not available at grocery/convenience stores or even at restaurants.