Starting and ending at the Rockgeist workshop.
117 miles, 10,657 ft elevation gain, 91 ft/mi. Route ridden clockwise.
A road bikepacking route with short sections of smooth gravel. Preferred bike rank: road bike, gravel bike.
Black Dome Challenge starts with a wheel dip in the French Broad River then climbs up to the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain on the East Coast. Camp out at the summit then continue along the Blue Ridge Parkway on day two. Your scenic tour of Western NC continues as you bike through Marion, Old Fort, Black Mountain, and finally conclude your trip by traveling though Asheville’s River Arts District.
- Blue Ridge Parkway riding
- Brewery stops (Black Mountain, Asheville)
- Camping at the highest summit on the East Coast.
The trip starts at the Rockgeist workshop in Woodfin, just a few miles north of downtown Asheville. (Please email [email protected] to coordinate overnight parking at the workshop.) There is a great coffee shop next to the workshop right on the French Broad River; so grab your coffee and dip your rear wheel in the River for the official start. Its all uphill from here as you bike up Elk Mountain Road and make your way over to Webb Cove Rd, which is the start of a smooth gravel climb up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The climbing has just begun as your make your way through the tunnels, pass countless vistas, and arrive at the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center for the first water re-supply. Fill up your bottles then continue on to the entrance of the Mount Mitchell State Park. Don’t get too excited as you see the Park’s entrance; it’s another 4 miles up to the summit.
Before arriving at the summit you’ll first pass the visitors center, restaurant, and camping area. You’ll need to walk the last 80 yards to the top but the journey is well worth the views that await. If camping at the summit, sites 5 and 6 have the best views to the East, with site 5 having the best hammock set up. There is no hot water at the campground for showers but the bathrooms are nice and the sites have plenty of firewood. The next morning descend back to the Parkway where you’ll soon arrive at the Curtis Creek gravel short-cut into Old Fort. If you have the tires for this, it’s a fun descent off the Parkway and spits you out right on route. If you have road tires then we recommend you continue on to descend route 80.
Once the route turns back west just outside Marion you have relatively flat terrain until you arrive at the Old Highway 70 greenway climb. This tops out at the popular Kitsuma Trailhead where you’ll continue West into Black Mountain where we recommend to stop at Dynamite Roasting or Pisgah Brewing for your choice of drink. Next up you’ll pass through Warren Wilson College and into East Asheville. The route now jumps back on the Blue Ridge Parkway for the most scenic option to get back to Rockgeist but feel free to make the route your own and explore the city before returning to your vehicle.
- If you need any bikepacking gear check out the Rockgeist rental gear selection.
- This is a big route to tackle in a single overnight. If you’re looking to spend more time camping you may want to consider taking two nights; the first at Mt. Mitchell State Park campground and the second at Catawba Falls Campground. Both campgrounds can fill up fast so it’s best to reserve your sites in advance.
- Take note of the Curtis Creek gravel road off the Parkway (heading north from Mt. Mitchell). If you have large road tires/gravel tires this is a fun short-cut that skips Marion and connects to the route in Old Fort.
Terms: Routes on Rockgeist.com are partial planning resources only. Please complete your own research before starting your trip. These routes are often remote and require proper knowledge of safety; including bike repair, bail out options, navigation, and resupply locations. Users are required to obey all road, land, and trail rules while practicing Leave No Trace principles. While all routes are diligently prepared and presented, Rockgeist does not guarantee accuracy of routes, trail conditions, or any points of interest detailed herein. It is your intention to fully assume all risks when following these routes. Rockgeist LLC, its collaborators, partners, or volunteers are in no way liable for actions, personal injury, damage to property, or any events that arise directly or indirectly from the routes presented on Rockgeist.com.