Tucked away in Mills River, North Carolina, the Bradley Creek Trail is not your typical cycling experience. With numerous river crossings and an ever-changing terrain, cyclists should be prepared for both the allure and challenges that this 4.1-mile out & back trail presents.
Beginning off of FS 1206, where unfortunately the trail sign has been reported missing since 5/26/13, Bradley Creek Trail tempts riders with a serene parallel journey alongside the river. But it's not all smooth sailing. The trail crosses the river a whopping 10 times within just 1.5 miles, demanding cyclists to ford through knee-deep, fast-flowing waters scattered with boulders. While there isn't much elevation to contend with, given its proximity to the river, these crossings ensure an arduous ride.
For those aiming to reach this trail, set the compass north from Mills River, NC on NC 191. A left onto North Mills River Road, which later becomes FS 1206, leads straight to the trail. However, a little vigilance is required, as the trail will subtly descend off the gravel road on the left after approximately 9.7 miles.But Bradley Creek isn't just about water crossings. An unexpected ride by a cyclist in September 2015 paints a varied picture. Venturing this trail both uphill and downhill, they encountered multiple terrains that kept the adrenaline pumping. While the trail isn't overtly technical, the numerous creek crossings offered a refreshing change during an uphill climb.The downhill journey on Bradley Creek is notably more thrilling, given the elevation drop. However, certain sections on the trail do demand caution. Overgrowth and fallen trees, potentially hazardous if unaware, were present during the aforementioned ride. And while one might hope that these obstructions have since been cleared, it's always best to stay alert.Furthermore, the trail's proximity to equestrian routes is evident from tracks and horse waste, especially in the lower sections.
Bradley Creek Trail, with its lush surroundings, offers a unique riding experience, especially for those looking for water challenges. However, ensure readiness for potential overgrowth, downed trees, and, of course, the numerous river crossings.For the adventurous at heart, the trail surely beckons. But, as always, ride with awareness and respect for the terrain.