>> South Mills River >> Cantrell Creek >> Squirrel Gap >> South Mills River >> Buckhorn Gap >> Black Mountain >> Avery Creek
>> South Mills River Trail : For the second time in a week, I was dropped off on SH 280 at the beginning of TurkeyPen Road, I then cycled to the South Mills Trail head to start my Pisgah Epic.
Started the ride at 9.am, and reached the South Mills Trail head about 20 min later. There were already numerous horse trailors at the parking, which bummed me off slightly, cos I knew the idea of horses on the trail would slow me down..
South Mills River starts off with a nice and easy downhill, that takes you to the stream and the first of many swing bridges. Cross the bridge and after a very easy and gradual climb, the trail levels out, and follows a scenic creek. On this section there are no more than 66 jumps, no, I did not count them, I got this info from a book, however I did enjoy this roller coaster ride. South Mills rolled on as a very easy ride, untill I reached the ruins of the old Cantrell Creek Lodge, just past this ruin, was my turn off onto Cantrell Creek Trail.
>> Cantrell Creek Trail : My very easy and steady ride came to an abrubt end at this point. The Cantrell Creek Trail, is every Mountain Bikers Nightmare!! It throws everything at you, to make you hate this trail, chicken heads, baby heads, root climbs, wet creek crossings, and just when you are thinking of ending your life, it throws some swampy, boggy trail at you, just so you even forget to end your life by sticking a sharp twig through your earhole. Even though this trail is very short,just under 2 miles, after a very long hour, you finally reach Squirrel Gap, still swearing and cursing Cantrell Creek Trail.
>> Squirrel Gap : I took a break at the Cantrell / Squirrel Junction, and spent 5 minutes throwing stones at the Cantrell Trail, and prayed to the gods that the Squirrel was not going to be the same.
The Gods listened, and at the junction, I took a left turn, and started screaming down the Squirrel untill I reached South Mills River again.
The Squirrel was great, and although the trail was VERY narrow at some places, I really enjoyed a well navigated “Bomb” down the Squirrel.
After a well deserved 25 min. downhill, I picked up back on South Mills River.
>> South Mills River Trail : After my Whirl on the Squirrel I crossed over the swing bridge, and followed the South Mills heading towards Buckhorn Gap.
This second section of South Mills leaves the stream, and climbed very gently, is a very easy ride, but not as scenic as the first section. It wasn’t long before I reached the turn off to the Buckhorn Gap Trail.
>> Buckhorn Gap Trail : The trail continued to climb, and although it was steeper than South Mills, it was still a very easy climb. Certain sections of this trail are very over grown, and I was still pretty spooked by breech of death with my Rattler on Turkey Pen Trail. For this reason I was riding faster than I normally would on an uphill, and that can become pretty tiring!!.. For the first time today, I met up with 2 horse riders, far in advance, I got off my bike and removed my helmet and sunnies, as not to spook the horses. Once passed I carried on to where I picked up the Black Mountain Trail.
>> Black Mountain Trail : Now seeing as this was not going to be my first time on this section, I knew what to expect, although a steep and rocky climb, it was by far a hell of a lot easier than other sections of Black Mountain. I passed the “Buckhorn Shelter” and started looking out for the Black bear I had seen in this same spot less than a week ago, but old huggy bear was nowhere to be seen.
After a pretty lung busting climb, I finally reached Soapstone Ridge, and knew that it was now time to put the brakes to the test.
The downhill from here to the Avery Creek Trail is superb, very bumby, and pretty technical, but because of the open stretches, it’s pretty easy to navigate at pretty high speeds, just dont hesitate on the 3 feet drops that appear out of nowhere.
When the trail reaches the crossroads for Club Gap and Avery Creek, you will be wise to take a short break, check your bike, and say a prayer, ‘cos the Guardian of Avery Creek will be looking for a sacrafice of some sort!!
>> Avery Creek Trail : This is what Mountain Bike Mayhem is made for, Pisgah single track at it’s best, FAST!! and bumpy, but you just don’t care, all you want is more!!. Do not take Avery for granted, this is a pretty technical ride with very little room for error.. don’t go too slow, don’t be cocky and go too fast, there are sections on this trail that half an inch can send you and your bike to the knackers yard!! Hold your head low, and as you head towards the log over the creek, just pray you hit that log 100% center, any form of hesitation on Avery can be lethal.
If and when you make it down in one piece, say an out loud Thanks to the Avery Guardian, cos you will definitely be wanting to Bomb down this one again.
Ride : South Mills River >> Cantrell Creek >> Squirrel Gap >> South Mills River >> Buckhorn Gap >> Black Mountain >> Avery Creek
Total time : just under 7 hours
Traffic on Trail : 2 horse riders on Buckhorn Gap Trail
Wild Life : none
Scenery : First section of South Mills River, and the Waterfall at the bottom of Avery Creek Trail
Other : Be VERY careful on Cantrell Creek, this trail can demolish your crank set, and don’t carry any sharp objects on Cantrell, you might end up using them on yourself!!
My Trail Rating : 7 / 10