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January 7, 2022

Mountain Biking Near Marble

Piney Knob Recreation Area

About 13.5 miles of really well marked trail in a stacked loop design that can all be connected. Super
flowy with short leg-burning climbs, but nothing too challenging. The whole set in under 2 hours

  1. Gobbler is the core loop, and is a somewhat fast, but twisty easy trail. Probably can do this in about
    45 min.
  2. Rhodo Coaster is easily the most fun loop with tighter single track and lots of little whoop-dee-doos.
  3. Flaming Azalea is also really fun, especially if done as a downhill. Go left on Gobbler at the
    trailhead and catch Azalea at the top, then follow it back to the trailhead

Jackrabbit Mountain Recreation Area

There’s two sets of trail systems in the area, each on a different peninsula along the lake, which are connected via
an extension of the Central Loop. In total, there’s probably about 18 miles of trail, so could make for an epic day. I
only did the central loop, the connection and Rabbit Ridge on the other peninsula. You could probably spend 3
hours out there – good for the family to hike or maybe try some riding on the easier trails. Beautiful scenery and
homes along the lake.

1. Central Loop is good for beginners, but can be real fun for an experienced rider if done fast – I think I only
dropped below the big ring on one section.
2. Rabbit Ridge – this is an absolute must do trail for the area! It’s like a massive pump-track with lots of fast
twisty trail on hard pack clay. There’s a bunch of whoop-dee-doos and table-top jumps too, and some small
rock gardens as well. Easily my favorite trail out here.

Tsali Trail Complex

This is the most well known trail system in the area and has an “IMBA Epic Trail” designation. In total there’s 35+
miles of trail there with 4 main trails and a few connectors/ extensions, but bike access for the main trails
alternates by day, so to do it all, you’d need to go out a least twice. Totally worth the drive, though. It’s not far
from Bryson City, which is a really cool little town with shops, cafes and restaurants. If you’re feeling ambitious
you could do Tsali and Fire Mountain in Cherokee on the same day with lunch and rest in Bryson in between.

  1. The Right/ Left Loop combo – About 18 miles total, but can be extended with a couple connected out-and
    backs, or cut short a few times along the way. It’s a pretty fast, not overly technical trail, although it does
    have a lot of roots and rocks. There are also some longer climbs, but overall pretty manageable. Really
    awesome views of the reservoir as well.
  2. Mouse Branch/ Thompson Loop – about 12 miles total with the various extensions. The trail is similar to the
    Right/ Left loop. Real fun.

Fire Mountain Trail

Although it’s a long drive, I highly recommend going out there. It’s by far the most technical trail with steep
downhills and lots of man-made obstacles (overpasses, bridges, berms, switchbacks, small and big drops, jumps,
rock gardens, etc…). The climbs can be pretty steep and challenging to get to the top, but then there are a number
of downhill options, varying in difficulty. It’s only 11 miles in total within a pretty compact area, so I did some trails
in multiple directions. It’s really well marked, including ratings for the various trails. Except for Tinker’s Dream and
a couple connectors, all the trails lead to a platform at the top of the mountain that then gives you a number of
options for the down-hill depending on level of the rider.

  1. Tinker’s Dream/ Spearfinger – this is a great way to get to the top since the climbs are a little less intense. It’s
    the easier way down too.
  2. Úktena – is good in both directions as well and leads to the top.
  3. Kessel Run – this is a down only, and amazing upper intermediate/ advanced run with lots of obstacles, some
    optional some not
Category: Holiday Ideas, Nature