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Bent Creek Experimental Forest
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Bent Creek Trail System

This is a wonderful park close to Asheville, not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It lies next to... read more

Reviewed today
MacNamband
,
Asheville, North Carolina
Very good outdoor experience for summer, here's why...

We are currently local to the experimental forest and make it a place to go during the summer... read more

Reviewed 21 August 2017
2Whitakers
,
Asheville, North Carolina, United States
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Reviewed today

This is a wonderful park close to Asheville, not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It lies next to the Arboretum, which is its own joy. Incidentally, if you care to hike to the Arboretum from outside the property, it's free. But be mindful of when fence gates open and close.

Most of the trails loop back on each other in one way or another, and are marked, and even on cold winter days you'll see other hikers, so not much chance of getting lost. Otherwise follow the river downhill...

One of the more popular trailheads in the area, off Wesley Branch Road, is the Hard Times Trailhead, which includes parking. From here there's a pleasant hike through washes over a hill to Lake Powatan, where you'll find a pier for fishing and a small pleasant beach. Also, a campground.

The walks are exquisite, despite bikers,hikers and runners, and even as you are constantly reminded with signs that many of the tree species here are under great stress, from harmful bacteria, fungus, invading plant species particularly quick growing vines, and the various subtleties that come with climate change.

And there's something else in this forest: during the season, hunters. And so you may see one, inevitably men in heavy camou, with rifles or mechanized crossbows, slings of arrows and a chair... Signs at the trailhead warn you NOT to wear brown or green clothing; best is orange, and have your dog wear that color as well. Incidentally, you would think that here of all places dogs would be welcome; they are NOT. And to make the point, beyond what's spelled out at the trailhead, someone has scrawled in black magic marker on all the signs in the forest a warning: "Leash your dog at all times, it's the law". Perhaps, a frustrated hunter who doesn't appreciate dogs chasing his quarry, which include White-tailed deer.

You have to remember this is North Carolina, one of whose great writers was James Dickey, the author of Deliverance. It's also an open-carry state.

From the Citizen Times, in Asheville: "According to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, there were 27 hunting-related accidents during the 2017-2018 hunting season in North Carolina, including five deaths, the highest number in the past six years. All five fatalities involved falls from tree stands."

Notes: Deer hunting season with black powder in Western North Carolina is open through Oct. 13. Archery season is Oct. 14-Nov. 18 and Dec. 9-Jan. 1, 2019. Deer hunting with modern firearms opens Nov. 19, the Monday before Thanksgiving, and closes Dec. 8.

Bear hunting season in Western North Carolina is Oct. 15-Nov. 17 and Dec. 10-Jan. 1.

Thank MacNamband
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

I was in AVL for a conference and wanted to go for a trail run. I learned to run trails in Bent Creek so this was basically going to see an old friend.
The trailheads can get busy during good weather. If you can carpool that would be best. During high volume times, people park alongside the road. Use caution doing this and it is best if you have all wheel drive. Also, there are quite a few spots in lower parts where you will not get cell signals. Higher on the trails you do get signal. There are bathrooms at the trailheads, but these are the “outhouse” type. No water. They do stink, but hey, nobody should be pooping on the trail. Speaking of, bring bags for your doggies. There are trashcans at the parking areas.
It would be very helpful to have a map. The local hiking and bike shops will have these. REI in Biltmore Village will have them as well as books about the area. Nat Geo maps are great as well.
Bent Creek consists of double and single track. If you are just in for a quick jaunt, go around lake Powhatan just up from the Hardtimes Trailhead connection. It is single track with some smaller rocks and roots. It will take you by the beach. It also has some mountain views. Always a great stop after a hard day on the trail. +/- lifeguard. My little kids have done this hike. Part of the hike is on a closed paved road.
If you need just a little more and have some time, the Pinetree Loop is near the bridge and campground connecter. It is a little more challenging but very flowy.
Note: these trails are done in both directions. Watch for oncoming traffic.

Have fun and I recommend a map or GPS. You may see wildlife and odd looking people, but hey, it’s AVL.

Respect the trails.

Thank Terry B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 October 2018

We enjoyed a hike with friends on our trip to Asheville. We took a trail that brought us to a large waterfall that you could also access closer if you desired. Some good hills and climbs too!

Thank P O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 May 2018 via mobile

This is the best place in Asheville to Mountain bike or hike! It is well kept! Everyone is so friendly and helpful! There is a lake with a beach area, and a Great camping area!

Thank Grant H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 April 2018

We love to head over to Bent Creek to get out on our bikes or for a run. Gets a little crowded at times but typically you can get in a great ride or run.

Thank Brian D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 December 2017

This is a great spot for hiking and mountain biking right on the edge of Asheville. Wide variety of trails for most skill levels.

1  Thank Octlt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 October 2017

If you brought your mountain bike, Bent Creek has 6000 acres of trails for you to ride. None of the riding is very technical but plan on doing some climbing. The trails lead out from the main road and go up hill since the road is in a valley. Climb to the top of the trails and fly down the flowing single track. Maps are available online and there are usually plenty of cyclists to ask for advice on where to ride.

2  Thank Frank T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 August 2017

We are currently local to the experimental forest and make it a place to go during the summer. Why?
1. A short drive from town.
2. Good (though not always plentiful) parking options.
3. Largely road bed grade means we can walk side by side.
4. Road beds have a relatively large air space above so there is a feel of openness.

You might not want to try it immediately, though....why?
1. Road beds are mostly gravel (not barefoot ideal).
2. Weekend crowds.

Also, bear in mind that bathroom facilities are port-a-loos (within the Arboretum fence) and permanent dry toilets (at parking areas), potable water is not readily available and the Arboretum gates close at 9pm during summer and 6pm during winter except during the christmas light thing (5pm).

Thank 2Whitakers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 August 2017 via mobile

Bailey bike park was closed for the day so I visited bent creek. Great park. Tons of parking. Very nice people there. Trails are clearly marked and there are trail maps along the trail in several areas. Really beautiful place to get lost in.

Thank Michael R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 August 2017

This forest was founded in 1925 and is the oldest experimental forest east of the Mississippi River. It offers hiking trails as well as mountain biking trails. We hiked for a while until the snowy trail prevented us from going any further. We couldn't fully experience the trails due to the snow but I liked what we did see.

Thank cheryl h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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