A stone's throw from Mills River in North Carolina lies the Fletcher Creek Trail, an invigorating cycling route that promises both pace and serenity. The 1.6-mile out & back trail demands attention, respect, and most importantly, a sense of adventure.
Starting from the trailhead of Fletcher Creek, one embarks on a journey that entwines raw nature with every pedal stroke. This venture commences on a gravel road that leads cyclists back from the parking lot. Shortly after crossing a distinct concrete bridge, a turn left onto Wash Creek Road (FS5000) unfolds. An uphill challenge spans the next 2 miles on FS5000 before a gateway beckons a left onto Spencer Branch. This leads to a quick detour left on Trace Ridge for merely 50 feet, then back onto Spencer Branch where gravity assists in a thrilling descent. Finally, the road concludes on Fletcher Creek Road, which offers a right turn. From here, Fletcher Creek trail commences, enticing with fast singletrack pathways that snake through both dense forest and captivating open meadows.Multiple creek crossings tease the senses before reaching a pivotal point at Fletcher Creek, where several trails converge. It's advised to stay the course on Fletcher Creek Trail, as it eventually meets Hendersonville River Road. The conclusion of the trail circles back to the beginning at the Trace Ridge trailhead.
Venturing from Asheville, one should head west on I-240, transitioning to I-26 east. Opt for the Asheville Airport exit (Exit 40, formerly exit 9) and steer south on NC 280. Shortly after NC 191, a stoplight will guide a right turn onto North Mills River Road. Following signs for the North Mills River Recreation area is essential. The trailhead is found by making a right past North Mills River Recreation Area parking lot onto the Wash Creek Road (signed "5000"), which transitions to gravel. The first un-gated gravel road on the left, marked by a unique concrete "bridge", culminates in the Trace Ridge trailhead and parking lot at an elevation of 2560'.
Cyclists who've tried and tested this trail rave about its fast and flowy nature. The trail's gradient is not as steep as some nearby routes like the Spencer gap trail, but speedsters will revel in its pace. A standout feature of this trail is the open meadows, a rare sight for mountain biking on the East Coast. A word to the wise - starting from the aptly named Never Ending Road (gravel road) is essential to capture the essence of this trail.Nature enthusiasts might be tempted to bring a fly rod, and a heads up - the region is frequented by bears and campers alike.
The Fletcher Creek Trail, with its intricate blend of fast tracks and natural beauty, is a testament to North Carolina's undying allure for cycling enthusiasts. Remember to ride with an acute awareness of the surroundings and respect for fellow trail users.