9 miles
2,592 ft
-2,417 ft
4,992 ft
High Point

This is one of our favorite routes for Laurel Mountain and Pilot Rock that are featured in Freehub Magazine's Pisgah Photo Book: Issue 6.3. You will need to drive out to the start of the ride and connect back to your car via Yellow Gap Rd.

The Laurel Mountain Pilot Rock Loop is a classic loop in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC. The trail starts from FS 1206, Yellow Gap Rd. and is ridden counter-clockwise. The trail starts off climbing on moderately steep singletrack interspersed with multiple highly technical crux sections of rock and roots. It continues on and follows the ridge up to the top, where it connects with the Pilot Rock trail and descends. There are three fairly distinct sections that split the climb up somewhat evenly. The climb is all singletrack once off of 1206. The first section, containing most of the more technical moves climbs steeply before reaching a gap. The second section, which traverses to another two gaps while continuing to climb, seems to move faster with fewer technical sections. This leads to the third section which pitches up sharply and contains a sustained hike-a-bike and steep climb to the pinnacle of the trail. Each of the three sections typically takes a similar amount of time.

At the top of the hike-a-bike, the trail continues to climb up before reaching an intersection where riders turn left onto one last pitch before intersecting the Pilot Rock trail and turning left to descend back to 1206.

The descent is loose, rocky, rooty, and overall extremely technical with the ability to carry high speeds most of the way. After heavy rains, washouts may be filled with debris and other surprises requiring full attention until you reach 1206. There are several very tight switchbacks and great overlooks on the way down.

Access: Trail is accessed from FS 1206, Yellow Gap Rd at either 276 on the Brevard side or the North Mills River campground on the Asheville or east side. 1206 is seasonally closed requiring a longer pedal in during winter months.

Trail season - Year round
Physical difficulty - Single black
Technical difficulty - Single black
Avg. time 3:00-5:00

Local Trail Association
Pisgah Area SORBA (www.pisgahareasorba.org)
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Trails in Route

Laurel Mountain21 miles
Pilot Rock7 miles


  • Riding area
  • Difficulty rating
    Black Diamond
  • Route Type
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More Stats for Freehub Magazine: Laurel Pilot Rock mountain bike route
  • Altitude min
    3,149 ft
  • Altitude start
    3,149 ft
  • Altitude end
    3,324 ft
  • Grade
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    5 miles
  • Distance down
    4 miles
  • Distance flat
    2,202 ft
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Trail Conditions
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Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Packed
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  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
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      Trail transparency
      youtuber A rainy, foggy, eerie descent of Pilot Rock in...
      A rainy, foggy, eerie descent of Pilot Rock in Pisgah, NC
      trail: Pilot Rock
      11:06 | 216 | comments: 0 | favs:
      Mar 1, 2018
      Pilot Rock pt 4
      Pilot Rock pt 4
      trail: Pilot Rock
      2:09 | 92 | comments: 2 | favs:
      Oct 26, 2016
      last and fastest part of Pilot Rock

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