Few scenes in nature match the splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains
Unseasonably warm temperatures across North Carolina made for an early spring thaw in the mountains and a perfect opportunity to ride up Mt Mitchell before the crowds arrive.
To more fully immerse myself in nature and avoid vehicle traffic, I rode up from Marion to the Blue Ridge Parkway on Curtis Creek Rd, a gravel alternative to the more common Hwy 80 route.
The route gains over 6,000 ft in elevation in less than 20 miles of climbing
Riding in the first tract of national forest isn’t so bad
Curtis Creek Rd steadily climbs about 2,500 vertical ft from the Marion valley to mile 348 of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Stunning blue ridge views, numerous switchbacks, and some grueling pitches make for a memorable ride
Curtis Creek Rd intersects with the Blue Ridge Parkway just before mile 348 — I took a left up to the Rough Ridge Bridge en route to Mt Mitchell
Once you hit about 4,500 ft in elevation, the views are absolutely stunning
They aren’t called the Blue Ridge Mountains for nothing
Approaching Mt Mitchell, you already feel on top of the world
The ride has some very unique features. The Curtis Creek area of Pisgah National Forest is the first ever national forest tract and Mt Mitchell is both the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains and North Carolina’s first state park.
A view from the top of eastern North America
For a bit more gravel riding, I rode up the adjacent Mt Craig, the second highest peak in eastern North America
The thrill of the descent is well earned after over a 6,000 vertical ft of climbing
Mt Mitchell is without a doubt a bucket list climb for any cycling enthusiast. The route ranks right up there with my favorite climbs of all time, including the Wasatch Crest Trail in Utah and Red and White Mountain in Colorado.