Pisgah National Forest, a half-million-acre stretch of forest land in Western North Carolina, is a natural wonder, home to whitewater rivers, scenic waterfalls, hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, and some of the highest mountain peaks in the eastern U.S. Pisgah is located to the north and the south of Asheville, with access points less than 10 minutes from downtown Asheville. There are a number of Asheville-area neighborhoods and surrounding towns that are mere minutes from Pisgah Forest, making it easy to find a home close to this national treasure. Following are just a few to check out:
The neighborhood of Bent Creek in Asheville is one of the most optimally positioned communities for enjoying Pisgah National Forest, thanks to the fact that in its backyard stands Bent Creek Experimental Forest, part of the Pisgah Ranger District. This part of Pisgah Forest contains a collection of trails for all kinds of hikes, from those suitable for beginners and families to those more amenable to advanced hiking groups. For mountain bikers, the area boasts nearly 30 miles of doubletrack and singletrack trails to suit a variety of levels, from beginner and intermediate bikers, to families, to larger groups; big climbs and technical sections keep more advanced riders happy. All of this is less than 15 minutes from downtown Asheville.
Nestled next to Pisgah National Forest, Brevard affords visitors endless outdoor adventures. Located 33 miles southwest of Asheville along scenic Highway 64, Brevard has a population of 7,600. Known as one of the top mountain biking destinations in the U.S., Brevard sports 300 miles of epic single track in its pristine forests. The area is also known for its road cycling and popular cycling shops, where guides and gear are always available.
Mills River, N.C.
Mills River, a town in the northwestern part of Henderson County stretching northeast to the Buncombe County border and southwest to the Transylvania County line, sits adjacent to Pisgah National Forest. Some 17 miles to the southwest of Asheville, Mills River is perfectly positioned for easy access to all the outdoor adventures the forest has to offer. The stretch of Pisgah Forest near Mills River is overflowing with waterfalls, hiking paths and mountain biking trails – you can even take a horseback trail ride. It is also close to renowned Pisgah Forest destinations like Sliding Rock and the Cradle of Forestry.
Marion/Lake James, N.C.
Marion, a picturesque town located in McDowell County just off I-40 35 miles east of Asheville, features stunning Pisgah beauty and a historic district dotted with unique taprooms, art and farmers’ markets, and annual festivals. Its proximity to the exciting outdoor adventures Pisgah Forest has to offer as well as other scenic small towns makes it an ideal spot to explore.
A short drive away from Marion is Lake James, with boating and other water recreation, fishing, camping and hiking opportunities set against Pisgah Forest; Lake James State Park is located on the lake’s southern shore. Also near Marion are Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi (6,684 feet), sitting just outside Pisgah National Forest.
Marshall is home to a range of Pisgah Forest adventures. A short 28-minute drive from Asheville, this idyllic town in Madison County boasts easy access to trails along the French Broad River, as well as an ideal stretch of whitewater for an afternoon of rafting. Many outfitters offer knowledgeable guides for the adventure, for either half- or full-day trips.
Hiking in Pisgah National Forest is a popular and easy-to-access activity from Marshall. The nearby Laurel River Trail is an easy 7-mile round trip that follows Big Laurel Creek in Pisgah. An hour away is the famed hiking destination of Max Patch – a bald with 360-degree, long-range views. Hot Springs, 23 miles from Marshall and tucked in Pisgah National Forest, is a popular destination, thanks to its natural hot mineral springs. After a relaxing soak, you can enjoy shopping and dining in the picturesque town.
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