Road Cycling on the Blue Ridge Parkway Riding
Visit our Blue Ridge Parkway page for more info on the Parkway.
Elk Mountain Scenic Highway Ride
My favorite local ride is to ride to the Parkway at Craven Gap on Town Mountain Rd, ride north to Bull Gap, and then take Elk Mountain Scenic Highway back to Asheville. This is, depending on where you start and how you route, a 20 to 25 mile loop with roughly 1700 feet of climbing. I usually ride up Old Toll to get to Town Mountain and ride back to Kimberly Ave on Beaverdam Rd. from the Asheville end of Elk Mountain Scenic Highway. Riding from Beaverdam Rd up Elk Mountain Scenic Highway is also a good, if harder, way to get to the Parkway. When I want to ride south on the Parkway, I ride down through Biltmore Forest.
North Asheville Parkway Access
The best way to get to the Parkway from North Asheville is via Old Toll and Town Mountain roads. The shortest way and the way with the least climbing, is to ride out Beaverdam Rd till it ends at Web Cove and then ride Web cove up to Craven Gap. There are two problems with this route: Beaverdam Rd is not safe riding - too much traffic on a narrow road with no shoulders and lots of blind corners - and Webb Cove is mostly dirt with some very coarse gravel dumped on it. It is not a road I'd want to ride with skinny tires!
East Asheville Parkway Access
If you want to ride north on the Parkway from east Asheville, the easiest way is to get on at US 70. From South Asheville you can ride through Biltmore Forest to get on the Parkway going either north or south.
West Asheville Parkway Access
From West Asheville, you can go down US 119 to get to the Parkway, but traffic around the Biltmore Square Shopping Center makes that route dangerous. You can also ride out Sand Creek and US 19(Smoky Park Highway) to get to 151(Pisgah Highway). Riding up 151 to the Parkway is, I think, a better ride than riding up the Parkway from 191(Brevard Rd) to where 151 ends at the top of the big climb to Pisgah. Either rides has about 3500 feet of climbing, but the climb on that part of the Parkway is boring while 151 is fun riding.
If I wanted to go north on the Parkway from west Asheville, I'd ride down to the river on Haywood Rd or Waynesville Rd, cross it and then ride south and then east along the rivers - south along the French Broad and east along the Swannanoa - to get to US 70. Then I'd ride, briefly, on US 70 - it is four-lane with lots of traffic there - to Riceville Rd and turn left on Riceville Rd. It is a short ride to the back entrance of the Folk Art Center and you can walk your bike around the center to get on the Parkway going north. You can also get on it, via a short dirt path, from Bull Mountain Rd which goes left from Riceville Rd just before the Parkway. Depending on where you are starting from in south Asheville, riding the Swannoanoa River Rd to US 70 may also be an easy way to get to the Parkway going north.
Other Parkway Pages
I have web pages covering rides on the Parkway south and north of Asheville - north all the way to the end of the Parkway since I did that as a tour and South to Devils Court House since I did that as part of a loop ride. I prefer riding north, but I have ridden the Parkway south to Soho Gap near Maggie Valley. Although I think riding to Mt Pisgah on the Parkway is boring, I also think the Parkway from Mt Pisgah south to Richland Balsam - the highest point on the Parkway is some of the best riding anywhere. Going north on the Parkway from Asheville, I regularly ride to NC 80 which is about 40 miles up the Parkway from the Folk Art Center. I especially like the Parkway between Craggy Gardens and NC 80, but few riders from Asheville go past Craggy Gardens. Riding to Craggy Gardens, like riding to Mt Pisgah, requires over 3000 feet of climbing. However, the climbing is more varied and the views are better riding to Craggy. For many road bicyclists in Asheville, the ultimate ride from Asheville is to ride the Parkway to the top of Mt Mitchell and back. That is a great ride!