Pilot Cove-Slate Rocks: Challenging Beauty in Mills River
Deep in the heart of Mills River, North Carolina, the Pilot Cove-Slate Rocks trail stretches for 3.7 miles, offering a ride that's as challenging as it is scenic. The trail runs north, parallel to Yellow Gap road, following the natural course of Pilot Cove and Slate Rock creeks.
Pilot Cove-Slate Rocks can be approached in two ways:
- As an out-and-back route.
- Looping it with Yellow Gap road to the south.
For those aiming for the stunning Laurel Mountain descent, consider using Pilot Cove-Slate Rocks as an alternative to simply spinning on Yellow Gap road. An added treat for panoramic enthusiasts is the Pilot Cove Loop Trail. This spur branches off the main trail, leading riders to a magnificent granite slab face boasting some of Pisgah National Forest's most breathtaking views.
Riders have shared varying experiences on this trail:
- Marked generally as a blue square trail, the west to east climb is more akin to a solid black in terms of its technical and physical requirements. With a landscape abundant in roots, sustained steep grades, and mucky conditions due to water retention, the trail is more of a gritty challenge than a joyride.
- Typical of Pisgah-style, this is a great singletrack trail featuring a steep hike-a-bike near the summit, a technical descent on the rear end, and picturesque waterfalls. Though compared to nearby Laurel Mountain, some riders felt it was slightly less exhilarating.
- Riding this trail, especially as part of a larger loop, unveils tight, bench-cut singletrack alongside roaring creeks, with a few delightful creek crossings. The trail tends to stay damp due to minimal sunlight penetration, yet remains well-maintained and thrilling. Riders should be cautious of obstacles like fallen trees and notably steep patches.
- Distance: 3.7 mi
- Level: Difficult
- Route Type: Out & Back
- City: Mills River
- State: North Carolina
For those keen on exploring the Pilot Cove-Slate Rocks trail:
- Head approximately 5 miles east on Yellow Gap Rd from US 276.
- The trailhead for Pilot Cove-Slate Rocks is situated about 1 mile east of the Pilot Rock trailhead, also on Yellow Gap Rd.
In summary, Pilot Cove-Slate Rocks in Mills River provides cyclists with a formidable ride wrapped in natural beauty, ensuring a memorable experience in North Carolina's wilderness.