Best Places to Run in Asheville
Coming to Asheville and want to get a run in? You’re in luck because our area offers many outstanding options. Whether it’s road or trail, a gentle jog along the river, or a soul-crushing hill climb, we’ve compiled together some of the best places to run in Asheville.
Up for an easy trail run and staying in downtown or Biltmore Village? There are several popular areas within 15 minutes of these areas. The Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) bisects Asheville from the Southwest to the Northeast and has three access points: by the North Carolina Arboretum, Hwy 25 South of Biltmore Village, and at Hwy 74-A. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs mostly parallel to the parkway throughout Asheville and crosses it in multiple locations. As you drive down the BRP you’ll notice well-worn spots off the road and typically a few cars at these where runners and hikers are hopping on the trail. Go either direction and run as far as you feel. The trail is marked with a white blaze so it’s easy to follow, even when it crosses the BRP, which it does frequently.
Another convenient trail running spot is the Bent Creek Experimental Forest located near the NC Arboretum and Asheville Outlets. Bent Creek has a mix of forest service roads and single-track. As you drive down Bent Creek Gap Rd. you’ll pass an information kiosk and Rice Pinnacle parking. Stay straight and park at the Hardtimes lot, the only one on the left, or continue up the gravel road to the right to access Ledford parking. We recommend these two areas because they have bathrooms and put you closer to the heart of the trails. Both have a trail map which allows you to plan a route. Trail junctions and roads are well-marked, but there are many “poach” trails, which are not. Stay on the main trails and you probably won’t get lost. A popular loop is to run downhill from the Hardtimes parking lot, turn right at the creek and then take your first left (by the concrete bridge) to go up South Ridge Rd. This is a gravel road, closed to vehicle traffic, that steps its way up the ridge before making a long, sustained descent. At your first major junction, about 1.3 miles from the parking lot, stay right and go around the gate to continue on South Ridge. If you stay on South Ridge for about four miles you will connect back to Bent Creek Gap Rd (FS 479) at a gate. Turn right on FS479 and you are about three miles from the parking lot. Total elevation gain for this 10 mile run is approximately 1,200’.
Whether you are running Bent Creek, or another off-road destination like DuPont State Park or Pisgah National Forest, pick up one of the excellent WNC Trail Guides from Pisgah Map Company. These are sold at any area bike shop or outfitter. Locals are happy to point you in the right direction but venturing into our forests without a map is dangerous.
If a paved run is more your thing there are dozens of interesting routes around, but one of our favorites is the out-and-back which begins at Carrier Park. Run Southwest from the parking lot and you will cross through an RV campground and then hit a nice asphalt greenway which takes you along the French Broad River. Remember, don’t get concerned you are heading in the wrong direction. Yes, you’re going upstream and southwest; the French Broad is one of the few rivers in the world which actually flows north. Follow this flat path to its end a couple of miles up the river and turn around. You’ll pass back through the parking lot and if you want to go longer. On a training plan and need to get in speed work? The most dependable place with markers is the loop road at the Asheville Outlets. If you start at the stop sign between the Waffle House and Tesla charging station and run clockwise around the mall you’ll see markers every 100 meters. They need to be painted again, but it’s easy to make out the 200s, 400s, and 800s. The entire loop around the property is just a tick over one mile. It’s not as flat as a high school track, but around here there’s nothing level.
Enjoy your runs in Asheville and let us know if you need any specific recommendations. We are here for all of your needs, whether it’s real estate, restaurants, or outdoor recreation!
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