If the idea of capturing jaw-dropping vistas, traversing through meadows, and navigating a steep hike-a-bike section known as "Satan's Staircase" tickles your fancy, then the Bennett Gap Trail is calling your name. Often mistaken with Art Loeb, this trail is a unique gem situated in the heart of Pisgah National Forest.
Beginning your journey from Asheville, steer your way south on I-26E. Take the exit for Hwy 280 and head southwest towards Brevard. A right turn onto Hwy 276 gets you into the lush landscape of Pisgah. Access this remarkable trail via the Coontree Trail or FS 477.
Boasting a single-track that's 2.6 miles in one direction, Bennett Gap serves an audacious menu of terrains:
This trail is seasoned with a little bit of everything—right from adventurous rock moves up top to devilishly fun descents, rounded off with intricate root patterns toward the bottom. It starts off on a high note, featuring glorious vistas of Looking Glass Mountain, made all the more dramatic when beheld from the top of the ridge. Do not miss the meadow on the ridge, albeit an overgrown one. And, let's not forget Satan's Staircase—a stretch so steep, it's preferable to tackle it by hiking your bike rather than riding down it.
Cyclists range from hailing Bennett Gap as the "MUST RIDE trail of Pisgah" to emphasizing its seasonal accessibility—open only between October 15 and April 15. While the challenging features make it a paradise for experienced riders, even beginner-intermediates find it worth the hike-a-bike situations for its unparalleled views and exciting elements. Word to the wise: riding down Satan's Staircase is not recommended unless you're ready for a double black diamond-level adventure.
Evidently, Bennett Gap Trail is a biker's dream and a photographer’s paradise wrapped into one. Offering a delightful array of technical elements and soul-stirring views, this trail serves an unforgettable mountain biking experience that beckons riders season after season.