Black Mountain sits as the front porch to Western North Carolina’s vast mountain spread—a mellow alternative to Asheville’s increasing congestion just 15 miles west. Holly Colson moved to the artsy small town from Park City, Utah, because it was one of the highest place east of the Rockies. The avid cyclist, trail runner, and part owner of Melon Bicycles found exactly what she was looking for.
Best Local Day Hike
Greybeard Trail in Montreat gains 2,338 feet in 7.5 miles (round trip) and offers beautiful views from the top of Greybeard Mountain (5,408 feet).
Best Family Camping Escape
The shelter off the Trestle Trail in Montreat. This easy hike is part of the historic route of the logging railroad that went from Black Mountain to Mount Mitchell in the early part of the 1900s. It is called the Trestle Road because it had three trestles to span the creeks along the route. No need for a tent; just sleeping bags and marshmallows.
Point Lookout Trail is a 3.6-mile paved path surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest. It was formerly part of Old U.S. Highway 70, winding through the woods with serene views of the mountains, railroad, and forest. While the trail is short, it climbs 900 feet in elevation from Old Fort to Ridgecrest.
Don’t miss the Kitsuma loop. Park at the trailhead and then climb past the dozen or so initial switchbacks and you’re faced with a long run down along the ridgelines that feel like they drop forever. Most of the trail is smooth and buff, but screaming down an eight-inch-wide track along a 60-degree fall line brings its own form of adrenaline.
Best Road Ride
Black Mountain Loop to Old Fort via Hwy 9—this 30-mile ride climbs up and over the Eastern Continental Divide and features fast descents and a car-free section.
Trail Runner’s Essential
The Toll Road to Mt. Mitchell is the course for the Black Mountain Marathon and Mount Mitchell Challenge. It’s 13.1 miles with an elevation gain of over 4,380 feet.
Rumbling Bald—with over 1,000 problems in a warm south-facing area near Lake Lure—is one of the finest winter crags in the Southeast.
At Ole’s Guacamoles you can grab the best fish taco in Western North Carolina with a yummy Michelada to replenish your salt loss.
Best Live Music Spot
The Straightaway Café features an outside stage, dance floor, and excellent local music.