Heart pumping. Lungs screaming. Sweat dripping. Legs weakening. You’re nearing the crest of the hill and you just want to get to the top. The moment the road levels out and you no longer need to strain yourself eventually arrives. You let yourself coast for a moment on your bike as you catch your breath and look at what lies in front of you. It’s time for the downhill baby!

If you’re looking to do some cycling and unwind on some quiet mountain roads around Asheville look no further than Madison County, North Carolina. You will be astounded by what some consider some of the most scenic and challenging routes for cyclists in the United States. Riders come from all over the world to enjoy the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina and to push themselves on our county’s roads.

Madison County is located just 15 miles north of Asheville, North Carolina and has everything you need for a weekend in the mountains or just a day of cycling. Both beginners and expert riders can find the right route that suits their goals, be sure to check out the many local favorite routes as well as their linked Strava links.

A top-tier destination for cycling enthusiasts, the deep valleys and the slopes of the Appalachian Mountains will challenge riders alternating between cruising and pushing themselves to the limit. Check out some of our favorite routes!

“2 miles. Downhill. 9%grade. New max speed on my computer …. 41.2 MPH! Wheeeeeeeee!

-Meredith C.

Cycling in Madison County, NC

Little Ivy Loop – 12 Miles

This Mars Hill cycling route is an excellent choice for cyclists who want a fairly flat and scenic ride through country roads. This low trafficked route snakes its way through farmlands, valleys and along streams. Find out more

Collegiate Loop – 24 Miles

Starting in Marshall, The USA Cycling Collegiate Road Cycling National Championships was held on this route and boasts challenging slopes and great views. Find out more

Meadow Fork Loop – 29 Miles

Meadow Fork Loop is a stunning countryside road-ride through the mountains. Riders will find themselves riding along tree-covered ridges as well as deep in valleys and into rolling countryside hills. Find out more

Big Laurel Grind – 38 Miles

Starting at Mars Hill University, the first 10 miles is a series of warm-up hills through the rolling country of southern Madison County. Find out more

Hot Doggett – 100 Miles

Traversing the entire county, the Hot Doggett route is one of the toughest you will find east of the Rockies and should not be attempted by inexperienced mountain riders! Find out more

Off-road biking in Madison County, NC

Rich Mountain Fire Tower – 10 Miles

Located north of Hot Springs, The Rich Mountain Fire Tower gets riders into the woods and among breath-taking views of the Appalachian mountains. Find out more

River Road Ride – 14 Miles

If you are looking for a relaxed route, with low traffic where you can listen to the roar of the mighty French Broad River, look no further than the River Road Ride in Hot Springs. Find out more

Hurricane Gap – 25 Miles

North of Hot Springs, Hurricane Gap is an awesome gravel road that connects to several other trails you can incorporate into your workout. With very low traffic and beautiful scenery, there’s no question as to why this is a favorite among riders. Find out more

Paint Creek Loop – 27 Miles

Starting in Hot Springs, this route is perfect for any time of the day and traffic is not an issue. It’s the perfect route for riders who want a challenging and quiet ride immersed in nature. Find out more

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Restaurants in Mars Hill

Need to fuel up after a long day of cycling? Mars Hill has a selection of fantastic restaurants that will “hit the spot” and wrap up an awesome day in Madison County, NC. Find out more

8 Ways to relax in Madison County

It’s time to chill out and relax. Get away from the concrete and crowds of nearby Asheville and come over to Madison County where there are bunch of ways to unplug, unwind and decompress. Find out more

Live music in Madison County

Nothing beats watching talented musicians perform their craft in a cozy setting. Madison County has a number of venues, open mics and musical events to enjoy some great music any night of the week. There is a particularly vibrant bluegrass and ‘mountain music’ scene but all genres of music can be found within our county. Find out more

6 ways to explore country roads in Madison County

It’s time to get away from all the city noise and enjoy the beauty of nature and the countryside. Whether it’s on a bicycle or in a car, check out our suggestions on how to explore the country roads of Madison County, NC. Find out more