There are lots of Top 10 lists out there and Pura Vida Adventures has decided to compile one of their own. This list will consist of our top 10 adventures in Brevard, North Carolina. Just like any top 10 list, this one is subjective; however, we believe that we have a good pulse on the adventure scene with over 15 years experience studying, living, playing, and working as adventure guides in Brevard.
10) Brewery Tours: This is a new addition to the area. Over the past ten years the micro brewing industry has become big business. It came to Brevard about 2 years ago, first with Brevard Brewing Company, who focuses on German style lagers, and followed by Oskar Blues Brewery, whose high gravity beers will have you waking up in the morning asking the question, “How did my night end?”. To add to the excitement of our local brewery scene Sierra Nevada is now located down the road in Mills River. If you want to learn more about the micro brewing industry in Brevard, Brevard Brewery Tours offers guided tours of the Brevard Brewing scene.
9) (Paddling) Playing in the Davidson River: First of all we should not call this “Paddling the Davidson River”, we should call it “Playing in the Davidson River”. My first thought was to include this as just a paddling piece talking about the diversity of Paddling opportunity along the Davidson River. Discussing the Class III-V rapids along the Daniel Ridge tributary of the upper Davidson down to the fish hatchery, and the class II whitewater opportunities on the lower Davidson. Then I thought the Davidson is not always at adequate paddling levels, but it is still a hot bed for fly fishing, tubing, cliff jumping, and swimming. Of course, no piece on the top 10 adventures in Brevard would be complete without discussing Sliding Rock, so we say insert Sliding Rock here.
8) Road Biking/Cycle cross riding in Pisgah: These two forms of cycling were lumped together because whether grinding the gravel or pounding the pavement you are going to have a good time in the place the locals call “The Pisgah”. On the road bike try the classic Hwy 215 – Blue Ridge Parkway- Hwy 276 loop. If you prefer to stick primarily to the gravel and some cycle cross friendly single track try FSR 477- FSR 475B- FSR 475-Fish hatchery Rd- Bracken Mountain Trail, then complete the loop with an easy paved pedal through downtown Brevard to the bike path and back to your car. No matter which bike (even motorbike) you choose riding “The Pisgah” will allow you to understand why this place has been called the “Land of the Sky”!
7) Tombstone Blues Canyon (Waterfall Hunting): Transylvania County, North Carolina is known as the Land of Waterfalls with over 200 waterfalls in this county alone. There are few other places that offer a better opportunity to hike to waterfalls, photograph waterfalls, or rappel waterfalls! One of our favorite adventures in the waterfall genre is Tombstone Blues Canyon. Check out this video:
6)Hiking Up John Rock: This is it if you have 3-4 hours to spend in Pisgah National Forest and none of the technical equipment, experience, or energy needed for the other activities in the list. The hike up to John’s Rock includes history, scenic waterfalls, and incredible vistas. John Rock got its name because during the New Deal era a Civilian Conservation Corp. camp sat where the fish hatchery sits today. This hike starts and finishes at the fish hatchery it goes along the Cat Gap Trail to the John Rock Trail and eventually to the top of John Rock where you will get an incredible view of Looking Glass Rock and beyond.
5)Climbing at Looking Glass Rock: Looking Glass Rock is a centerpiece to the Brevard area as well as Pisgah National Forest. Ever since Steve Longnecker and the early climbers at Looking Glass started putting up first ascents on the rock, climbers from throughout the eastern United States have made the pilgrimage to climb here. From top roping to aid climbing Looking Glass Rock has it all. The Nose route at Looking Glass is the rock’s most popular multi pitch climb. The four pitch climb ascends over 600 ft and allows one to have a bird’s eye view (or more uniquely a peregrine falcon’s eye view) of the Pisgah National Forest.
4)Art Loeb to North Slope Trail Run: This trail run gives you the perfect feel of what it is like to trail run in Pisgah National Forest. You are either climbing, descending, or crawling on this trail run. Located right near the forest gates you can access this trail run via the Estatoe trail. After warming up on the Estatoe trail prepare your body to climb and climb some more along the Art Loeb Trail until you hit North Slope Connector. Once on the connector trail descend down to North Slope Trail taking a right at the trail junction. From their enjoy the rolling rocky terrain and pleasant wooden bridges that the North Slope Trail offers before dumping you out near the Davidson River Campground entrance.
3)Mountain Biking Black Mountain: Black Mountain Trail maybe the most popular mountain biking trail in the entire Pisgah Ranger District. Besides being easily accessible from the forest gates, it also provides riding opportunities for riders of varying ability levels. The lower section of Black Mountain trail connects with Thrift Cove and Sycamore Cove providing a great ride for those Pisgah mountain bike virgins. The next section known as “Maxwell to Black” maybe one of the most popular mountain bike rides in all of Pisgah. A long climb from the horse stables rode then a right on Maxwell Road eventually brings you to the intersection with Black Mountain. From there take a right, ride and hike your bike to Hickory Knob then begin your descent of pure delight. Another option is to explore Upper and Upper Upper Black Mountain Trail for more remote, single track trails, an incredible view of Looking Glass Rock, and a corridor to even more Pisgah single track.
2)Paddling the North Fork: The North Fork is an incredible whitewater kayaking experience for any competent Class III-IV creek boater. The traditional run starts with a series of class II-III boogie water before entering into the gorge proper at Boxcar Rapid. As you take the 15 ft. entrance slide at boxcar into the 8 ft. drop at the falls you are in another world until your boat boofs upon landing. The fun continues on with a series of class III-IV rapids including The Clog, Razor Rock, and Vortex Rapid. The gorge proper culminates with the 8 ft. waterfall called Submarine Rapid. Run this rapid too far to river left and find oneself in a cave created by an undercut rock. Good news is it typically will flush you, but the bad news is you probably will spend a bit of time fishing out your boat from the undercut. From there hike out and continue running laps in the gorge proper, or continue downstream paddling some fun class II boogie water for a few more miles.
1) Backpacking the Art Loeb Trail: The Art Loeb Trail takes the top spot on our list for the simple reason that at the essence of all outdoor activity is the knowledge gained from backpacking. Backpacking teaches one to live deliberately for accidents occur when mistakes accumulate. The Art Loeb Trail provides a challenge for the beginner backpacker looking to complete their first weekend backpacking trip to the fast packer attempting to complete the trail in one day. The Art Loeb will provide you with opportunities to hike balds up to over 6,000 ft in height( including Black Balsam), 360 degree views at Pilot Mountain, views of Graveyard Fields and much more. The majority of backpackers d0 the approximately 32 mile point to point trail, which includes over 11,000 ft of elevation gain, in 3 days and 2 nights. More information on the Art Loeb trail is available here.
This top ten list is simply the humble opinion of one Brevard mountain guide. You may agree with some or all the choices, or you may simply agree to disagree, but I hope you enjoyed the read, as much as you “Enjoy the Ride” whether by foot, bike, boat, or rope!
This article was written by Joe Moerschbaecher with input from other Pura Vida Adventures guides, friends who live in the Brevard area, and past clients’ experiences.