Delve into North Carolina’s mountain ranges and explore scenic roads, historic rivers, crashing waterfalls and the highest peak east of the Mississippi. Our Asheville to Highlands cycle tour takes you through the breathtaking views and rich cultural landscapes of the southern Appalachians. Cycle alongside the Balsam, Craggy and Black Mountains. Indulge in bluegrass music, time-honored southern recipes and some of the region’s best breweries. Explore the cultural hotspots of Asheville and the secluded mountain town of Highlands. There’s no better way to experience the southern Appalachians than from the seat of a bike—just you, the road, and the views around you.
- Cycle along the Blue Ridge Parkway
- Explore downtown Asheville and rustic Highlands
- Possibly summit the highest peak in the eastern U.S.
- Indulge in Southern-inspired cuisine and famous breweries
Meet with your guides and fellow guests at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel before a short drive takes you to the quaint town of Marshall. Once there, travel to Blanahasset Island, a park settled in the French Broad River, and relax with a picnic lunch.
After lunch, set off on your journey’s first ride! Pedal along the French Broad and west of the river, eventually coming to a stop in Asheville—your home base for the next several days. Settle into your hotel before meeting for happy hour in the courtyard. Up next, stroll to Chestnut for a fresh, locally-sourced dinner.
Ride: Approximately 31 miles with 2,200 feet of climbing
Rise early and enjoy breakfast at the hotel’s Writer’s Bistro before setting off for today’s cycle through the community of Leicester outside of Asheville. Pedal through serene countryside and rolling hills with only moderate climbs. If you’re up for a second loop, you can take on Elk Mountain—a local favorite climb. It’s not all uphill, however, as the ride finishes with a refreshing descent down Town Mountain Road back into Asheville.
Once we’ve finished our morning ride, you are free to fill your day with whatever you want. Explore Asheville’s legendary street scene and all of its unique galleries, cafes and shops. The South Slope breweries are also within walking distance of the hotel. This evening, reconvene with the group for a southern, locally-sourced dinner at Chef John Fleer’s well-known restaurant, Rhubarb.
Ride: Approximately 28 miles and 2,075 feet of climbing
Longer Option: Approximately 45 miles with 4,100 feet of climbing
Today you get to ride down the legendary Blue Ridge Parkway. Climb out of Asheville along Town Mountain’s switchbacks before settling onto the Parkway at Craven Gap. Once here, pedal on a 13-mile, largely gentle climb with the stunning backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains following along as you make your way to the Craggy Gardens region. Once you’ve reached the summit, relax with a picnic lunch and a possible hike to Craggy Pinnacle—a great panoramic viewpoint with views of the encircling peaks. Rhododendron coat the pinnacle in late May and early June, while fall brings in bursts of colorful foliage.
After lunch, you can choose to take the largely downhill return bike back to town or continue on to Mount Mitchell’s summit—the highest peak in the eastern U.S. standing at 6,684 feet. These 4.5 miles may be steep, but the views are worth the workout! If you choose to return to town early, you may take a historic trolley tour of Asheville, tour the Biltmore Estate, or explore more of the shops downtown. Enjoy dinner on your own tonight, and there are plenty of delicious options a short walk from the hotel!
Ride: Approximately 45 miles with 4,120 feet of climbing
Longer Option: Approximately 69 miles with 7,800 feet of climbing
Hike: Approximately 1 mile with 260 feet of climbing
Enjoy breakfast before we depart from our hotel and Asheville. Our drive toward the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Mills River takes us through the Biltmore Forest community and onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. Once we reach the brewery, take a tour and sample the 23 beers regularly on tap before indulging in a delightful farm-to-table lunch.
After lunch you have the opportunity take a shuttle to the nearby Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard. Or, if you want to work off the beer, you may take a bike ride on the relatively flat roads between the breweries. No matter your mode of transportation, once you reach Oskar Blues you can enjoy a refreshing pint in the tasting room or out on the outdoor patio before being transported to Pilot Cove.
Here you can relax on the private deck of your own spacious cabin and take in the sights, sounds and smells of the forest, as the gorgeous Pilot Cove property shares a border with the 500,000-acre Pisgah National Forest. This evening you are own your own to explore the culinary offerings of downtown Brevard, a short shuttle ride away.
Ride: Approximately 25 miles with 1,550 feet of climbing
Longer Option: Approximately 52 miles with 2,800 feet of climbing
Enjoy the morning in your cabin as guides deliver breakfast to you. After, you can decide what adventures you wish to go on today.
You may choose to go on an exhilarating morning ride through the French Broad River Valley. You may enjoy a break in downtown Brevard to enjoy lunch or check out the home of the world-renowned Brevard Music Center and Brevard College, and try to spot one of the famous white squirrels that populate the area. After lunch you may ride straight back to Pilot Cove or you can add some extra miles with a loop to the community of Penrose. Alternatively, today is the perfect time to explore western North Carolina in a different way if you would like to hire a local fly fishing, rock climbing or mountain bike guide (these activities are not included in the price of your trip). Take some time upon your return to walk the 2-mile trail on property or grab a pint at the Pisgah Hub and Tavern, a bike shop and favorite community gathering place just down the hill from your cabin. Tonight you will gather for a final social hour and dinner on the grounds at Pilot Cove. Enjoy live bluegrass music and a meal prepared by our friends at Blue Smoke BBQ (vegetarian and vegan diets can easily be accommodated) as you gather around the campfire to toast an unforgettable week in these mountains that just might have stolen your heart.
Ride: Approximately 34 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing
Longer Option: Approximately 47 miles with 5,930 feet of climbing
After breakfast, time will allow for a ride aroudn the valley. Roll through the community of Etowah and along the French Broad River one more time on Talley Road before heading back to Pilot Cove to get cleaned up and check-out. You will then shuttle to the Asheville airport, about a half hour away. Expect to arrive at the airport by 11:30 AM. Please do not schedule a flight out before 1:00 PM on this day. For those requiring a return to downtown Asheville, the guides can drop you off around 12:00 PM.
Ride: Approximately 30 miles with 1,200 feet of climbing
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FAQ & More
The terrain in western North Carolina is mountainous and the rides feature an average of about 90 feet of elevation gain per mile. Of course, shuttles are always available when you've had enough. There is also the option to take a day entirely off the bike in Asheville on Days 2 or 3 and in Highlands on Day 5 for those who would rather explore town on their own.
Each guest is provided with a packing list before the trip.
This trip is intended for avid cyclists who are accustomed to riding about 3-4 hours at a time, and up to 70 miles on a long day. We recommend that you feel comfortable climbing hills, mountains, and sloping terrain, with 3,500-7,000 feet of climbing on a hard day.