(Photo courtesy of nkreiki.com)

Asheville, North Carolina 

With a year-round riding climate, diverse terrain and some of the most scenic trails in the country, this mountain town is an outdoor playground for mountain bikers and other outdoor recreation enthusiasts.Located in the eastern range of the Appalachian Mountains tucked between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains, Asheville has riding for every skill level. Trail options range from brutal single track to leisurely trail rides with spectacular views. And with a thriving art scene, eclectic downtown and budding music scene, the city itself is a fun place to explore between rides.

Once a primitive pioneering community, around 1880 the arrival of the railroad transformed Asheville into a vacation destination that attracted people from around the country. Officially established in 1883, by 1890 the city’s population climbed to 30,000. Today the city has about 70,000 residents and is becoming one of the top places to live and visit in the nation.

Places to stay:

Asheville offers everything from quant bed & breakfasts and upscale four-star hotels to more rustic cabins and campsites.

One of our favorite options is the The Tipi Camp, which offers classic tipis, screened lodges on a wood deck or cloth cottages. The camp is modeled after the traditional tourist camps that began popping up in the United States in the early 1900s as road trips became increasingly popular with Americans. For only $50 a night — bed, linens and morning coffee included — it is an inexpensive and unique way to experience the city.

Renting a bike:

Liberty Bicycles has men and women’s mountain bikes to rent for $45 to $65 a day. The shop also carries Polar Bottles in case you need a new bottle before hitting the trails.

Hitting the trails:

For beginners and experts, the Tsali Recreation Area has 40 miles of varied level singletrack trails that take riders along the edge of Fontana Lake. Another, more challenging, option is to tackle the trails through the nearby Pisgah Mountains.

Several local bike shops have weekly group rides, both in town and on the trails. Biowholes, for example, has Thursday evening rides along the popular Bent Creek trail.

Enjoy that southern hospitality!