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Beech Mountain Resort

Intro

Sitting at 5,506 feet in the heart of Appalachia, you’ll find Beech Mountain. Beech features amazing skiing and snowboarding terrain accompanied by an array of après activities that are sure to make your visit memorable. Grab your skis or board and make the two hour trip from Asheville.

Who is Going to Love It

Beech Mountain Resort takes pride in cultivating new shredders to enjoy the mountain. They offer free skiing and snowboarding lessons with the purchase of rental equipment, Monday-Thursday. Beech is a certified Burton Learn To Ride (LTR) Center. The field of instructors make learning to ride a blast and the learner specific equipment has beginners shredding in no time. Snow Kamp is also available for children 3-5 years old and provides parents with an all-day childcare option.

What Makes It Great

Beech Mountain Resort boasts eight impressive lifts including a high-speed quad that takes skiers and riders directly from the base to the top of the mountain. The eight lifts service a total of 95 skiable acres on 15 slopes. Check out the Beech Mountain Trail Map for more details on the terrain.

You’ll also find the Powder Bowl freestyle terrain park maintained by a core group of shredders. Powder Bowl is home to advanced and intermediate features including boxes, rails, and kickers. Beginners can hone their skills in the rider-friendly Meadows freestyle park.

The View Haus, Beech Mountain Resort’s largest facility, was recently renovated to provide a comforting mountain lodge atmosphere with all new amenities. How about an local craft brew for your après ski thirst quencher? Beech Mountain Brewing Co. is located in the Ski Village with a brand new deck and ski-in ski-out access! You’ll find plenty of dining and entertainment options at Beech, making this the choice for longer North Carolina skiing and snowboarding stays.

Beech Mountain Resort hosts many large and small events including live music, trivia, and the totally tubular Retro 80s Weekend.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The drive from Asheville to Beech Mountain Resort will take you 1 hour and 45 minutes. Check out lift ticket rates and current conditions before you head up the mountain.

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Featured image provided by Courtesy of Beech Mountain Resort

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort

Intro

 “Come Ski the Wolf.” Wolf Ridge Resort offers this enticing invitation. How could a skier or snowboarder turn down an invitation that sounds so cool? The greatest thing about coming on up to Ski the Wolf? It only involves a 35 minute scenic drive from Asheville!

What Makes It Great

Wolf Ridge Resorts stands five miles off of I-26 on a scenic highway. The Wolf is a favorite of locals looking for a quick trip to the ski slopes. The Wolf operates on 62 acres of enjoyable ski terrain that is covered in an average of 60-80 inches of snow per year. Skiers and snowboarders will enjoy Wolf Ridge’s recent terrain makeover which includes updates to the park and widened trails which provide better access to the lodge. Wolf Ridge’s Lower Lodge serves as a full service ski station for visitors, offering tickets, rental equipment, dining, and a gift shop. Wolf Ridge Resort has a variety of year-round accommodations available that provide a wonderful base camp.

Wolf Ridge is a family oriented resort. They help “share the stoke” with kids and beginners through their PSIA/AASI accredited Snow Sports School and their “magic carpet” serviced tube run.

  • Number if Slopes: 15
  • 40% Beginner
  • 40% Intermediate
  • 20% Advanced
  • Annual snow average 60-80 inches
  • Annual snow record: 148 inches

Download the Wolf Ridge Trail Map for an in-depth look at their terrain.

Who is Going to Love It

While it’s a primarily geared towards beginners and intermediate skiers and snowboarders, there are also deals for everyone!

  • 2 For Tuesday: Buy 1 Lift Ticket, Get 1 Free
  • Women’s Wednesday: ½ price lift tickets for all ladies
  • Thursday College Night: $15 lift tickets with student ID
  • Active Military: $15 off lift tickets with ID

Wolf Ridge is also open for night skiing.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Wolf Ridge is the closest ski resort to downtown Asheville. A 35 minute scenic drive up I-26 will bring you to the base of Wolf Ridge Resort.

Tickets are reasonably priced and start at $40 for adults. Visit Wolf Ridge’s website to purchase lift tickets in advance.

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Featured image provided by Photo Courtesy of Wolf Ridge Resort

Sugar Mountain Resort

Intro

Sugar Mountain Resort boasts one of the highest vertical drops and largest amounts of skiable terrain in Western North Carolina. From Asheville, a scenic hour and forty minute drive into the North Carolina high country will have you skiing on one of the area’s finest resorts. Make the trip for a day of fun in the snow or check into one of Sugar Mountain’s variety of lodging options for a multi-day winter excursion.

What Makes It Great

Sugar Mountain Resort is known not just for skiing and snowboarding, but for an array of activities to entertain the entire family. Not comfortable on the slopes? Sugar runs a 700 foot tubing run which is serviced by a “magic carpet lift” that stays open late for evening entertainment. Adjacent to the tube run is a 10,000 square foot ice skating rink. If you are looking for winter exercise, Sugar Mountain offers guided snowshoe tours throughout the week. Tours include a one hour hike and snowshoe rentals.

  • Summit Elevation: 5,300 feet
  • Base Elevation: 4,100 feet
  • Vertical Drop: 1,200 feet
  • Total Skiable Acres: 125 (100 at night)
  • 14% expert
  • 52% intermediate
  • 34% beginner
  • Number of Lifts: 7

Who is Going to Love It

Skiers and snowboarders love the terrain offered at Sugar Mountain during the winter.

In recent years, Sugar has also begun to offer year round activities. If you find yourself visiting the North Carolina mountains in summer, Sugar Mountain is a great place to quench your thirst for hiking or mountain biking. Many miles of free access trails are available during daylight hours in the summer months. Get a detailed trail map before your visit and check out this video from Sugar Mountain Resort’s expert downhill track. Expert riders can experience the same downhill adventure as a USA Cycling National downhill racer on what is considered one of the most demanding and thrilling downhill courses on the East Coast.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

The drive from Asheville to Sugar Mountain Resort is beautiful and takes 1 hour and 40 minutes from downtown. Lift tickets to Sugar are incredibly reasonable. Parking can easily be found at the resort and they also run a shuttle system to help you get around once you’re at the mountain.

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Featured image provided by Mark Clifton

Our Winter Look Book

Our winter look book has arrived. Check your mailbox or stop by the store for your printed copy — or view it online! While you can always shop many of the outdoor products we carry on our website and hold them for free store pickup. The look book highlights our favorite new gear, clothing, and footwear for the season. Our crew thinks they’re the best items for you and those on your holiday shopping list.

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Happy Holidays from Will + Catherine!

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that in 1964, we opened the area’s first outdoor store: a simple, 900 sq. ft. garage full of factory seconds that we sold primarily to local scout troops. Over the past 53 years, Diamond Brand Outdoors has grown to include much more than camping products. Our dedication to carrying quality brands, having a knowledgeable and seasoned team to assist you in finding the right products for your outdoor endeavors, and commitment to serving and giving back to the communities that support us continue to be the driving forces in our retail stores. You have all been great friends and neighbors, voting us Best of the Blue Ridge and Best of WNC multiple times — and making us the first stop for adventure for so many outdoor enthusiasts, young and old alike.

We take great pride in our legacy of community support, as we believe that it is the right thing to do. Each month, we donate 10% of a day’s sales to a local nonprofit. Through that program and other sponsorships, we’re on track to support more than 60 organizations with over $70,000 this year alone, giving back to these organizations within our communities! We’ll also be hosting our Bundle Up for More coat drive again in November and December. Bring a gently used coat to one of our stores and get 20% discount off a new item. Eblen Charities will ensure that these coats get to families in need in our community.

If you haven’t visited us lately, stop in to see our refreshed store layouts, enjoy complimentary coffee and tea while you shop, and allow one of our personal shoppers to assist you in a one-to-one shopping experience at no charge. You can even start your adventure on our redesigned website and choose free in-store pickup, saving on shipping costs and enjoying the face-to-face, personal interaction you have come to expect from Diamond Brand Outdoors. You’ll also find regional hikes, outdoor tips and tricks, upcoming events, and local adventures on our blog.

Adventure is Local! We are happy and honored to be an independent and family-owned local business. In fact, Catherine Gay took the cover photo for the winter look book from her own adventures while enjoying the beauty of Western North Carolina. Thanks again for all of your support over the years and we look forward to seeing you in one our stores soon!

Happy Holidays,

Will and Catherine Gay, Owners

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7 Great Disc Golf Courses Near Asheville

Asheville continues to rank high on travel lists for outstanding food, beer, and popular outdoor activities such as hiking and biking, but hidden behind all of the hype are some of the best disc golf courses in the North Carolina. The goal of disc golf is the same as traditional golf: get the disc from the tee to the hole in the fewest strokes possible; however, instead of clubs, balls, and a decent chunk of cash, all you need is your arm and a disc to have a good time. Check out this list of the Asheville area’s top disc golf courses, all within a half hour drive or less.

Western North Carolina’s subtropical climate and moderate seasonality, these courses are accessible during most of the year. Barren trees may allow a better view of cages in the winter, but make sure you’re always prepared for the trail with the proper footwear. Stop by any Diamond Brand Outdoors location for a large selection of KEEN hiking shoes, boots, and sandals to ensure your time on the course is as enjoyable as possible.

Richmond Hill Disc Golf Course

Richmond Hill Disc Golf Course is an 18-hole course working its way through Richmond Hill Park just north of downtown Asheville. The course is hilly and heavily wooded (watch out for poison oak and poison ivy), making it one of the most challenging place to play in the country. However, it is one of the closer courses to downtown and has a dedicated community of golfers.

280 Richmond Hill Dr, Asheville, NC 28806

Black Mountain Disc Golf Course

Black Mountain Disc Golf Course is an 18-hole course just outside of this beautiful mountain village in Veterans Park. The course has short — yet difficult — holes that wind their way through moderate hills with scattered trees. Despite the difficulty of the course, it is one worth making a trip to for its beauty and the views of the surrounding area.

10 Veterans Park Dr, Black Mountain, NC 28711

Waynesville Disc Golf Course

Waynesville Disc Golf Course sits just outside of downtown Canton at the Waynesville Recreation Center. For the most part, it’s a wide open course comprised of long tee throws and beautiful views of the nearby mountains. A course map can be found in the recreation center office and main kiosk.

550 Vance St, Waynesville, NC 28786

Crookston Disc Golf Course

Crookston Golf Course is an incredibly accessible and flat 9-hole course in Fletcher Community Park for those days when you want to play a quick round after work or just don’t feel like walking a hilly course. Crookston is also a very good place for the beginner due to its numerous open and straightforward holes. Keep in mind, though, this is a flat course and it can often be a bit marshy after heavy rains.

85 Howard Gap Rd, Fletcher, NC 28732

Lake Julian Disc Golf Course

Lake Julian Disc Golf Course lies along the shores of South Asheville’s Lake Julian and now hosts a full 18-hole course following its August 2017 expansion. This course is relatively flat compared to the other courses in the area and has everything from water-front holes to holes that weave their way through the woods (again…watch out for poison oak and poison ivy).

406 Overlook Road Ext, Arden, NC 28704

UNCA Disc Golf Course

UNC Asheville has established a 6-hole disc golf course for both students and the community to test out. The course is primarily hilly and wooded with a few holes in the open. Due to the course’s location on UNCA’s property and its limited holes, it is very accessible and a doesn’t take too much time to walk!

2500 University Heights, Asheville, NC 28804

Sandhill Nature Trail Disc Golf Course

Sandhill Disc Golf Course is part of Buncombe County Sports Park and hosts a full 18-holes that make their way through a hilly and wooded area. This course is not far from downtown and incredibly accessible due to Buncombe County Sports Park’s parking and facilities. However, remember to throw wisely because this park has so many facilities and there will be other people around.

58 Apac Dr, Candler, NC 28715

Whether you’ve never stepped on a disc golf course or you’re a seasoned professional, we hope that this short list of our favorite courses here at Frugal show you more of what Asheville has to offer and, ultimately, allow you Adventure is Local to spend less, and play more!

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Featured images provided by KEEN, Official Sponsor of Your Next Adventure.

Lake Julian image courtesy of The Night Canopy.

Ultimate Gift Guide for Hammocking

Hammocks have come a long way in recent years. Once a staple of beach houses and backyards, hammock camping has made its way into festivals and campsites due to increased comfort, easier setup and takedown, and an enjoyable time. ENO made its name as the definitive hammock maker early on and has branched out in recent years to include a stable of high-performance, lightweight year-round gear perfect for anyone on your gift list.

DoubleNest LED Hammock

ENO and festivals go together like waterfalls and summer. The ENO DoubleNest LED Hammock boasts the same features as the original ENO DoubleNest ($69.95), but with a fun and festive integrated light string — with bright, dim, and strobe functions — to inject a good time into any hammock session. When the party’s over, just tuck the DoubleNest LED away in its stuff sack and you’re ready for your next adventure. Don’t forget the straps!

Kanga Sling Bag

A plethora of pockets can accommodate all your hammock accessories when heading into the great outdoors. The main compartment is big enough to also fit your book and a few snacks, and a your water bottle in the side pocket. Padding on the back and strap make the ENO Kanga a comfortable companion on the trail or on the town, so pack it full of essentials for wherever daily Asheville adventures take you — from concerts to breweries and work to play.

(ECHO) Bluetooth Speaker

This Bluetooth-enabled portable speaker not only weighs next to nothing and fits conveniently in any pocket, purse, or festival pack, but its hammock-specific design and built-in hanging hook angles the speaker for an optimized listening experience. Bright, colorful, and packing a huge audio punch for such a little package, the rechargeable ENO (ECHO) comes with an included micro USB cable and will inject energy into any situation.

Lounger DL Chair (left)

The ENO Lounger DL is truly the king of comfort when it comes to camping chairs: padded arm rests, a pillow, two seating heights, and a cup holder. The feet offer a ton of floatation, so this chair works great in soft muddy or sandy conditions. This is the chair that your friends will be vying to steal from you around the campfire.

Nomad Hammock Stand (center)

Is your backyard lacking in trees? Do you wanna hammock at the lake right near the water? When posts are in short supply, bring along the ENO Nomad and set up anywhere. When you’re done, the ultra lightweight poles easily fit in the included carry case.

LaunchPad Blanket (right)

It’s the Cape Canaveral of pickup Frisbee games and the mission control of set-break hoagies; the ENO LaunchPad is the ultimate luxury in picnic and outdoor concert gear. The LaunchPad is topped with a layer of cushy fleece to keep you warm, but armored with a coated, ripstop nylon underneath to keep you dry. When the show’s over, just zip it up and sling it over your shoulder.

Twilight Camp Lights

Make your campsite glow with the ENO Twilights LED Camp String Lights. This string of 23 ultrabright LEDs illuminates a large area and features four different lighting modes for versatility. The lights can run for up to 72 hours on 3 AAA batteries and keep the party going long after the fire has gone out.

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One Day Sale

The Awesome 8 is back in 2017! The Awesome 8 offers a chance to grab stocking stuffers for everyone on your list (or get something spectacular for yourself). Each Tuesday and Thursday from Thanksgiving to Christmas, you’ll score major savings that last just one day and are available in stores while they last. Make sure you gran them before they vanish!

While your at the store, check out our free personal outfitting service, donate a coat to one of your neighbors (and save 20% off something new), or grab some gift cards (and score a gift for yourself).

Awesome 8 #5 — December 12: Kelty Riot Daypack for Just $40

Wide, stable shoulder straps and grooved back padding will make the Riot 15L your go-to pack for hiking, biking, and every day use. The modified vest suspension keeps the pack balanced and comfortable, and an external pop-out hydration sleeve (reservoir not included) keeps you hydrated all day. Supplies are easy to grab with the side access zippered pocket, front shove-it pocket, and stretch mesh shoulder strap pockets. Whether you prefer exploring the world on two feet or two wheels, the Riot is built to keep up with you. Regularly $69.95, you can grab a Kelty Riot 15L for just $40 on Tuesday, December 12. Kelty Riot available at our store in South Asheville’s Parkway Center (1378 Hendersonville Road) only.

Awesome 8 #4 — December 7: Bridgedale Merino Wool Gloves for $19.99

Super soft and comfy, Bridgedale merino wool gloves will become your best friend during winter for both everyday use and casual trail hikes. MerinoFusion® technology ensures you’re not only kept warm, but any excess moisture is quickly wicked away. An everyday winter essential, don’t leave home without them. Great for gifting or for your own personal use, grab as many as you like for just $19.99 per pair on Thursday, December 7 (reg. $33.95).

Awesome 8 #3 — December 5: 50% OFF Columbia Fleece

Columbia’s pure, clean fleece lends warmth and rugged style to these versatile pullovers. The ultimate three-season layering piece for warding off the chill during cool morning commutes, showing style at concerts, and keeping out the draft during outdoor adventures. Available in a variety of colors, snag the Glacial III for $25 (reg. $50) or the Harborside for $30 (reg. $60) on Tuesday, December 5. Columbia fleece available at our store in South Asheville’s Parkway Center (1378 Hendersonville Road) only.

Awesome 8 #2 — November 30: 1/2 OFF White Sierra Cozy Blankets

White Sierra’s Cozy Blanket is made from their softest fleece to keep you nice and toasty from watching a Friday night football game to camping in the woods to cozying up in front of the fireplace. The blanket is a perfect for two (60″ x 60″ square) and folds up into a pillow. Available in purple, pink, and brown, the Cozy Blanket is a great stocking stuffer, teacher’s gift, or addition to your snuggly collection of throws. Regularly $40, snag as many as you like for $20 each on Thursday, November 30.

Awesome 8 #1 — November 28: 40% OFF Luci Solar Powered Inflatable Lights

The Luci light was created as an inflatable solar light with the goal of making an affordable clean energy product that can be used in any situation — from outdoor camping adventures to backyard parties to everyday living for people in developing countries without electricity. By tapping into a source of light that’s limitless and readily available to everyone, Luci lights put the power of the sun into a device that fits in the palm of your hand. Life doesn’t stop when the sun goes down and there’s no reason it should. Get one for everyone on your list for 40% OFF (limit 8 per customer).

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  • Awesome 8 #6 — December 14
  • Awesome 8 #7 — December 19
  • Awesome 8 #8 — December 721

In-stock items only. Color and selection may vary by location. Select styles, sizes, and colors apply.

Lake Julian Festival of Lights

Time spent with family creating lasting memories is what the holiday season is all about. Lake Julian’s 17th annual Festival of Lights is a local favorite with games, crafts, s’mores, and an impressive collections of 50 animated light displays. Drive through tickets are $10 per passenger vehicle at the gate, but stop in any Diamond Brand Outdoors location or Frugal Backpacker to purchase advance tickets for just $7 per vehicle (excludes large vans, motor coaches, and buses). The park is open nightly from 6:00-9:00 p.m. through December 23.

Your ticket purchase also helps the community. 20% of proceeds are donated to Buncombe County Special Olympics, while the remaining income is reinvested by Buncombe County Recreation Services to enhance the Festival of Lights for the following year. Be sure to add this magical journey to your holiday bucket list. Watch the lights twinkle over the lake and turn on your favorite yuletide tunes!

More about Lake Julian (from Romantic Asheville)
Lake Julian Park is a family recreational facility located on the banks of 300 acre Lake Julian in Arden. The park offers picnicking, boating, fishing, a playground, outdoor games, and special events. Lake Julian has an abundance of bass, catfish, brim, crappie, and imported Tilapia. Because Lake Julian is used as a cooling agent for Progress Energy the lake is “thermal.” Some of the best fishing occurs from October through March. Six picnic shelters are available for rent at Lake Julian Park. In addition to the shelters, many tables and grills are available at no charge on a first-come first-served basis.

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Feature image provided by Buncombe County Recreation Services

Bent Creek Experimental Forest

What Makes It Great

Nestled between The North Carolina Arboretum and Pisgah National Forest, Bent Creek Experimental Forest hosts a fun and convenient network of trails on the southern flank of Asheville.

Generally, Green’s Lick is regarded as the best downhill at Bent Creek. We won’t necessarily disagree, as Green’s Lick is definitely a fun descent (especially its wide-open lower half). There is a lot more to Bent Creek than just Green’s Lick Trail, though. Advanced riders may find others they prefer, such as Ingle’s Field Gap and Wolf Branch.

Recommended routes:

The Bent Creek trail map can be slightly intimidating, with its dense snarl of at least 24 named trails intersecting dozens of forest roads. Really, how many offshoots of FSR 479 can there be? These trails are well-maintained and well-signed, however, and it’s hard to get too lost as long as you have a map. Here are some of the best loops to help maximize your time on the Bent Creek trails.

Green’s Lick Loop (intermediate, 11-15 miles, +2,000 feet of climbing): Park at Rice Pinnacle trailhead and start at the bottom of Wolf Branch (TR 666). You may also park at either Ledford or Hard Times and take the Deer Lake Lodge connector over to the same spot. Climb the Wolf Branch and Ingles Field Gap (TR 150) trails, then continue up North Boundary Rd, following signs that read, “To Green’s Lick.” The full climb gains about 1,200 feet in just under 4.5 miles. Take a left onto Green’s Lick (TR 139) and enjoy the descent.

From the bottom of Green’s Lick trail, you have options:

Option A: If you’re short on time but want more climbing and another high-speed descent (who wouldn’t?), hang a left onto Sidehill (TR 145), then climb Little Hickory Top (TR 136) back up to Five Points. From Five Points,  you can descend Ingles Field Gap and Wolf branch back down to your car. This downhill is a little steeper and a little trickier than Green’s Lick, and you’ll need to watch out for climbing riders. This ride will finish in the 11-12 mile range, depending on which trailhead you’ve started from, with nearly as much climbing as the longer option.

Option B: If you’d prefer something longer and perhaps slightly less grueling, take a right and follow 479G down through the gate, then take a left and climb up Bent Creek Gap Rd (479). From here, it’s a short climb up to the bench on Lower Sidehill (TR 137A), then a sweet downhill back to 479G. Some other guides paradoxically suggest climbing Lower Sidehill to descend the gravel, but trust us: this way is much better, and since the FS 479 gravel has vehicle traffic on it it’s not very fun to descend. If you take gravel back to your car from here, the full ride will be 14-15 miles (depending on parking area). If you want more, you can easily add on the Explorer Loop and Pine Tree Loop trails detailed in the beginner ride below.

Intro to Bent Creek (beginner/intermediate, 11 miles, +1,400 feet): Starting at the Rice Pinnacle trailhead, climb Wolf Branch (TR 666) and Ingles Field Gap (TR 150), as above, but take Little Hickory Top (TR 136) down from the Five Points Junction.  Bear right onto Sidehill (TR 145) and follow it down to Laurel Branch Rd (FS 479G). Ride down the gravel a bit, then take a right onto Lower Sidehill (TR 137A) and a quick left onto the Lower Sidehill Connector trail (145A). Take a right onto Bent Creek Gap Rd (FS 479), then a left and through the gate onto Cold Knob Rd (FS 479H). Take the first left onto the Explorer Loop trail (TR 337), then right at the fork and left onto the Pine Tree Connector (TR 336A). From this point, turn right onto the Pine Tree Loop (TR 336) and climb up to the Deerfield Loop (TR 335). Go left on Small Creek (TR 334), then right on Homestead (TR 333) and follow the gravel roads back to Hard Times, then over to Ledford parking area. At Ledford, pick up Deer Lake Lodge (TR 664) and follow back to Rice Pinnacle.

Bent Creek beginner’s ride (beginner, 7 miles, +900 feet): This loop makes a nice figure eight and is suitable for beginning mountain bikers. From the Hard Times parking area, take Homestead (TR 333) over to Small Creek (TR 334) and climb Small Creek to Deerfield Loop (TR 3335). At the end of Deerfield, go left on the Pine Tree loop (TR 336) and follow it to the 336A connector, then take a right onto the lower portion of the Explorer Loop Trail (TR 337). Follow the Explorer Loop trail until it dead-ends at Cold Knob Road (FS 479H), then take a left and climb the gravel. If you’re riding with kids or need to cut your ride short, you can skip this climb and upper parts of the Explorer Loop by going left on Alt Explorer (337A); otherwise, continue up the road until you see 337 and climb to the very top of the Explorer Loop. Follow this back down until you reach 336A again, then take a right onto the connector and a left onto the lower part of the Pine Tree loop. Ride Pine Tree back to Bent Creek Gap Rd (FS 479), then take a left and follow the gravel back to your car.

Intro

Bent Creek Experimental Forest is, without question, the most popular destination for Asheville mountain biking. With about 30 miles of mountain bike trail (and many more miles of gravel forest road) a mere 20 minutes from downtown Asheville, it’s a great in-town alternative for cyclists without the time to travel far. Bent Creek is also relatively beginner-friendly, unlike many of the classic trails in nearby Pisgah National Forest, with trails to suit a wide range of rider abilities.

Who is Going to Love It

On the whole, Bent Creek will be enjoyed by mountain bikers with an intermediate skill level with primarily non-technical trails that don’t include much of the rocks and roots you’ll find strewn liberally throughout Pisgah. It’s a great place for newer riders to build skills and fitness before venturing onto more difficult terrain. Even if you prefer technical riding, though, the proximity of this trail system to Asheville means it’s your best bet for after-work singletrack therapy or, say, lunchtime rides on business trips.

Directions, Parking, + Regulations

This is a multi-use trail system, and none of the trails are directional. It’s also frequented by hikers and trail runners, so please remain aware of your surroundings and be prepared to yield to both climbing riders and other trail users, especially near Lake Powhatan campground.

It’s important to tread lightly here, as the primary focus of Bent Creek is forestry research and study, not recreation; continued recreational trail access is contingent upon our stewardship. Likewise, please do not ride these trails when they are soft from precipitation or freeze-thaw.

The Hard Times trailhead is the most popular and often fills up completely. Luckily, the Rice Pinnacle and Ledford Branch trailheads are very close. If you need a water bottle refill, a fountain is available at the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area campground.

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Featured image provided by Jeff Bartlett

Cataloochee Ski Area

Intro

Cataloochee is home to great skiing and snowboarding in the Great Smoky Mountains. Make your way over from Asheville and you are sure to agree with this sentiment. With expansive views, varied terrain, a full service lodge, and friendly staff, Cataloochee offers one of the most memorable winter experiences in the Southeast.

What Makes It Great

Cataloochee Ski Resort lies just outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The view from the top of the mountain is incredible and overlooks the resort’s namesake, Catalaoochee Valley. The lodge sits directly at the base of the mountain and hosts a restaurant and bar with a massive deck overlooking the slopes. “The Looch” has impressive snow-making infrastructure and is able to cover 100% of the terrain. This ability leads to a long season for one of the southernmost ski resorts on the east coast. If you and your family are looking for a day of fun on the snow, it’s a great mountain for all skill levels to play on.

Slope Breakdown: Cataloochee has a total of 18 trails and 5 lifts: 1 quad, 1 triple, 1 double chair, and 2 moving carpet surface lifts for the beginner learning areas.

  • 44% beginner terrain
  • 39% intermediate
  • 17% advanced
  • Top Elevation: 5,400 feet
  • Base Elevation, 4,660 feet
  • Vertical Drop 740 feet

Cataloochee is also proud to offer the Cat Cage Terrain Park which features creative features that are varied throughout the year.

Who is Going to Love It

Cataloochee has a giant sale on future season passes every spring. Keep an eye on their website in March to grab yourself a pass at up to half off regular price!

Cataloochee offer an awesome beginner’s skiing package to help “sell the stoke” to first timers. The Slide in 5 program is a multi-lesson beginner’s package which includes a free pair of skis. The package includes lift tickets, ski rentals and lessons for any five days during the year.

Directions, Parking, + Regulations

The drive to Cataloochee from Asheville winds through scenic Maggie Valley and climbs high atop the Great Smoky Mountains. Cataloochee’s website provides detailed driving directions for visitors from all directions.

Before you head up the mountain, check out Cataloochee’s webcams and their detailed Snow Report.

Current pricing on Lift Tickets can be found on Cataloochee’s website.

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Featured image provided by Steven Reinhold

Events

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Over the years, we’ve had several team members thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, the nearly 2,200 miles long hike from Georgia to Maine. Two more are looking to become thru-hikers this year by hiking the entire trail in a single season. Join Dylan and Gwyneth as they share what to expect from the A.T. — and what it expects of you.

The clinic will cover all aspects of planning a long-distance hike on the A.T., from essential gear to the diversity of the Trail experience. Participants are encouraged to find their own personal approach to hiking the Trail while also being well-prepared, responsible hikers. Learn about setting expectations, safety, permits and management, alternate routes, and more.

RSVP on Facebook

Kids and well-behaved pets with owner on leash are welcome at this free event.

Spirit of the Holidays Celebration

December in Western North Carolina can swing from snowy and cold to sunny and warm from year to year (or week to week). However, the spirit of our community — which shines brightly throughout the year — is always on display during this special time. We’re celebrating this positive spirit with a day of joy and cheer at our flagship store in South Asheville’s Parkway Center.

What to expect?

Be sure to arrive on time for these fun experiences!

  • 11:00-12:00 — Winter Hiking + Camping Workshop with Graham
  • 11:00-2:00 — Ornament Making with LEAF Easel Rider Mobile Arts Lab
  • 1:00 — Ugly Sweater Pageant
  • 2:00-4:00 — Kids’ Clif Bar Decorating Party

Special Buys + Deals

  • 20% OFF The North Face clothing, hats, + gloves
  • 30% OFF ENO hammock accessories, speakers, + lights
  • 25% OFF Stanley cups, mugs, + coolers
  • 30% OFF select Nemo sleeping bags
  • 50% OFF all ornaments
  • 30% OFF all vendor samples
  • Up to $50 OFF Osprey packs
  • 50% OFF Grand Trunk travel gear
  • Buy 2 Sili Pints, Get 1 FREE
  • $10 OFF Flyshacker pajama bottoms
  • Buy 2 Pairs of Echoview Fiber Mills alpaca wool socks, Get 2 FREE
  • 25% OFF Marmot tents
  • 40% OFF North River Outditters shirts + fleece
  • Buy 3 Pairs of Socks, Get 1 Pair FREE (excludes Pudu + Socksmith)
  • Buy One Hydro Flask tumbler, Get Another for 60% OFF
  • 20% OFF an item with coat donation
  • $25 for White Sierra Cozy Blanket (was $40) — a great stocking stuffer

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