Hiking in the Bent Creek Area
Bent Creek is located in the northern tip of the Pisgah Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest just 15 minutes from downtown Asheville. Bent Creek's watershed contains a collection of trails for all kinds of hikes, for beginners and familes to advanced hiking groups. Bordered by the Blue Ridge Parkway to the south and a moderately high ridge to the North, this watershed is a federal Research and Demonstration forest, so you can learn more about forestry management techniques as you hike. This also means, however, that the forest is subject to research closures, and it is imperative to stay on the trail and out of research areas.
A campground, mountain lake, and family recreation area, combined with its close proximity to the city of Asheville, make this area very popular with tourists and locals alike - yet it is not as crowded as some may have you think. Plenty of miles of trails means the people will be spread out. Trails here connect with the Mountains to Sea/Shut In Trail, two of Pisgah's most popular long-distance trails. This trail network is very popular with mountain bikers as well, so be sure to share the trail!
Bent Creek's trails are varied, like much of Pisgah. The area is bordered by the young Pisgah Ridge to the south and a moderately high side ridge to the North (including Stradley Mountain), with elevations ranging from about 2100' to a modest 4100'. Most of the easier trails are clustered around Lake Powhatan, where several loop trails - Deerfield Loop, Pine Tree Loop, and Explorer Loop (listed in increasing difficulty) make nice, short family hikes. The Homestead trail (which loops around the lake) and Campground Connector trails are two other excellent easy trails. More difficult trails on the north side of Bent Creek Gap Road include Sidehill, Lower Sidehill, and Little Hickory Top. Other trails and connectors make loops of various difficulty possible on this side of the road.
Starting near the mouth of Bent Creek as it dumps into the French Broad River is the Shut-in Trail, which ascends Shut-in Ridge and generally follows the Parkway all the way to the Mount Pisgah parking area many miles to the South. (Incidentally, there are at least two Shut-in Ridges I know of, the other being in the Davidson River Area beyond Mount Pisgah.) This is the most strenuous of Bent Creek's trails. The Mountains to Sea Trail also follows this route but continues in both directions at the Shut-in Trail's ends. This dual trail follows the southeast border of the Bent Creek area and several of Bent Creek's trails intersect it, including Hardtimes Road and the Sleepy Gap trail, making long distance hikes into the Mills River and Davidson River areas possible. You can also access this trail from the Parkway at the French Broad River, Sleepy Gap, Bent Creek Gap, and Beaverdam Gap, all shown on the Bent Creek Map.
Places to Stay at Bent Creek
The Lake Powhatan Campground is located within the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area at Bent Creek. Open only from April 1 to October 31, this campground offers 98 sites, flush toilets, and hot showers, all near the shore of Lake Powhatan which includes a swimming beach and fishing pier. You can also walk right out of the campground onto Bent Creek's fantastic trails. Sites are $12 a night and the campground can become quite crowded on summer weekends.
Backcountry and roadside camping are not permitted in this area.
Apple Blossom Cottage
Mountain biking, road riding and hiking galore are only minutes from Apple Blossom Cottage. We're 5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost # 405.5), 10 minutes from Pisgah National forest, 20 minutes from Bent Creek trails and 20 minutes from downtown Asheville! Come back to the cottage after a fun filled day...wash and then store your bikes in the basement, enjoy a cool one on either the front or back porch, then head to the hot tub where you can sit and relax while gazing overhead at the stars and moon while enjoying the luminance of the fireflies! And don't forget...we're PET FRIENDLY!
Bent Creek Lodge
Offers the perfect place to stay for your Western North Carolina hiking adventure. The inviting lodge is located in a section of forest between the Blue Ridge Parkway and the French Broad River. You can easily bike or drive from the Lodge to the Bent Creek Recreation Area. The North and South Mills River areas are just a short drive down the road, and the Davidson River area and Dupont State Forest are only 45 minutes away. After a long hike you can come back to the Lodge, soak those tired muscles in a whirlpool tub and head for the night life and great restaurants in Asheville, only 15 minutes away! Click here for more information on the Bent Creek Lodge.
Bon Paul & Sharky's Hostel of Asheville
Relax in our back deck hot tub and watch the sunset with beautiful views of Mount Pisgah. Our friendly knowledgeable staff will tell you about all the great places to hike and check out in town. High Speed wireless internet is available. Linens are included. We have bikes to borrow, bus and airport pick up, and camping available as well!
How to Get to Bent Creek
From Asheville, take I-240 west to I-26 east and get off on exit 33, NC 191. Turn left, pass the Biltmore Square Mall, and head south on NC 191 for 2 miles. Turn right at the stoplight onto Bent Creek Ranch Road (following the brown signs for the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area). Bear left at a fork after 0.2 mi. Continue for about 2 miles to reach the National Forest and the first (Rice Pinnacle) parking area.
Once you enter the area, there are several good places to park. The first is the Rice Pinnacle Parking Area, on Rice Pinnacle Road, on the right. About 0.5 miles further on the left is the Hardtimes trailhead. Many hikers start here. 0.2 miles beyond Hardtimes, the road splits. The left fork leads to the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area and Campground, open seasonally, where an entrance fee is charged. The right fork is gravel, and called Bent Creek Gap Road, which eventually leads to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Several pulloffs along that road make good free parking areas, especially at the intersections with Ledford, Boyd Branch, and Laurel Branch side roads.