One of the most common questions we get asked at Jus’ Running is, “Where should I run?!” And lucky for you, there is no shortage of routes to run around here. Asheville, North Carolina is a piece of running paradise tucked in the Swannanoa and French Broad River valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether you’re wanting to get in road miles or singletrack, you won’t have to look too hard to find a route. Here are some of our local favorites.
May Route of the Month
A staff-curated local running route, updated monthly.
Greens Lick Grind:
Contributed by JR Staff Adam Lion, photo by Rachel Veale
This loop is in the popular Bent Creek Experimental forest, just 15 minutes southwest of Asheville. Enjoy scenic views and extremely steep single track trail during this 8.2 mile loop, which climbs 1,400 ft into the mountains. This is a difficult run with a mixture of technical single-track, gravel forest-service roads, and a small amount of paved road running.
Park at the Hard Times parking lot in Bent Creek. Begin your run at Hard Times road, which is gated off to vehicles. Take a right at the T-Intersection onto Hard Times Spur. Continue onto Hard Times Road (FS481F). Pass the Wesley Branch Road intersection, and continue onto Campground Connector. At the intersection of Bent Creek Gap road, continue straight onto Boyd Branch Road. Immediately after you pass the gate, take a left onto Lower Sidehill Trail, which is single-track. After about 1 mile, take a right at the T-Intersection onto Laurel Branch Road. Stay on Laurel Branch Road for .5 miles, and then take a left onto the single-track of Greens Lick. Climb this steep trail for 2 miles, gaining 800 feet of vertical gain. At the top of Greens Lick, take a right onto the single track of N. Boundary Road. Descend on this trail for 1 mile, until arriving at the 5-points intersection. Here, take a soft right onto Ingles Field Gap trail. After descending for .5 miles, take a sharp right onto Ingles Field Gap Connector. At the T-Intersection, take a left onto Boyd Branch Road. After .75 miles, take a right onto Ledford Branch Road. Continue left onto the paved Wesley Branch road, which takes you back to the Hard Times Parking Lot.
50% Single Track, 45% gravel road, 5% paved road.
Hard Times Parking lot in the Bent Creek Experimental forest.
River Arts to Haywood Road Brewery Hop:
Connect two distinct parts of Asheville (with multiple options to grab a beer!) with this route. Park at the Craven Street Public Parking area off Emma Rd and Hazel Mill, and jump onto the French Broad Greenway for about half a mile, passing New Belgium on your right and the French Broad River on your left. As soon as you pass under the bridge, hop onto Haywood Road heading south. You’ll hit Archetype Brewing next (after a little bit of a climb), and turn right at the light to continue down Haywood Road and into historic West Asheville. Pass by The Whale, One World Brewing, and Westville Pub amongst many other cafes, restaurants, and shops. Flip around at UpCountry where you’ll clock in at just about 3 miles, and head back the way you came (feel free to stop by for a beer if you haven’t already…)
Length: Out and back 6 miles
Parking: Craven Street Public Parking Lot
photo by Donnie Jones
N AVL to Beaver Lake:
Contributed by staff member Rachel Veale
Start at Jus’ Running. Turn right and head north up Merrimon. Turn right on Farrwood Ave. Take a left on Kimberley. Stay on Kimberley until you pass a cemetery on your left and hit Beaverdam Road. Once you hit Beaverdam, take a left and you’ll shortly see a crosswalk. Cross the crosswalk that puts you on Dover St. Run down Dover St until you hit Merrimon. Cross the crosswalk, and take the trail that borders Beaver Lake. Once the trail merges with Lakeview Drive, stay on Lakeview Drive until it turns into Mt Vernon Circle, then hits Colonial Place. Take a left on Colonial and you’ll hit Merrimon. Continue straight and Colonial turns to Gracelyn. Stay on Gracelyn until it hits Kimberley Rd, and take a right on Kimberley. Follow Kimberley down until you hit Farrwood, and take a right. Stay on Farrwood until you hit Merrimon, and take a left to put you back at JR!
Length: 5.5 miles
Terrain: Pavement + Hard Packed Dirt
Parking: Jus’ Running Shop
Contributed by staff member Thomas Brown
A classic 6.2 mile loop in North Asheville. Park at Jus’ Running or nearby. Head south on Merrimon Ave and take a left on Clearview Terrace. Follow Clearview Terrace and take an immediate right on Murdock Ave. Follow Murdock Ave for approximately 1 mile until you reach Hillside St. Follow Hillside St until you reach Charlotte St and take a right. Follow Charlotte St until you reach Clyde St and take a left. Follow Clyde St until you reach Sunset Dr and take a left and continue as the road winds up the hill. Follow Sunset Dr for approximately 2 1/2 miles until you reach N Griffing Blvd. Continue on N Griffing Blvd as the road begins to wind down through the neighborhood until you reach Country Club Rd. Take a left at Country Club Rd and continue until you reach Kimberly Ave. Once at Kimberly Ave, take a left and continue until you reach Evelyn Place. Take a right on Evelyn Place and shortly after another right on to Murdock Ave. Continue on Murdock Ave until you reach Clearview Terrace and take a right on Merrimon Ave and you’ll be right back where you started.
Length: 6.2 miles
Parking: Limited Jus’ Running Parking
Photo by Rachel Veale
Reid Creek to Montford:
Contributed by staff member Whitney Waters
Park at JR. Turn left on Merrimon Ave and cross onto WT Weaver Blvd at the traffic light. Take the greenway all the way to the Broadway intersection and cross Broadway. Turn left on the greenway to continue. Follow greenway until Magnolia. Turn Left then immediately Right on Broadway. Turn Left on Chestnut and cross the bridge. Follow all the way to Montford Ave. Turn Right on Montford. Turn Right on Panola to make a loop around Montford Park. Turn Right on Cumberland. Take a Left on Magnolia and follow back to the greenway and take a Left. Follow greenway back to the shop to finish!
Length: 5.0 miles
Parking: Jus’ Running Shop
West Asheville 10 mile loop:
A 10 mile loop through West Asheville. Park at West Asheville Park, and head south on Vermont Ave. Follow Vermont Ave and take a left on Olney Rd. Follow Olney Rd until you get to Sand Hills Dr and take a left. Stay on Sand Hills Dr until you reach the parking and trailhead for Hominy Creek Trail on your left. Follow the trail for less than a mile until you reach Shelburne Rd and take a right. In about 100 meters you will take another right onto Hominy Creek Rd and follow all the way to Hominy Creek River Park. (Sometimes this road has heavy traffic, so be careful!) Once at the Hominy Creek River Park parking lot, take a left and another immediate left on to the Greenway. Follow the Greenway for almost three miles until you reach French Broad River Park. Once under the bridge, you will continue and take a left into the parking lot in order to circle around up to Amboy Rd. Cross the river and take a left onto the Greenway and continue for almost 2 miles until you reach Craven St and take a left. Cross the river and continue on Craven St, which will turn left at the first stop sign. Stay on Craven St. and take a right on Haywood Rd. Stay on Haywood Rd until you reach the traffic lights and continue right which will also be Haywood Rd. Stay on Haywood Rd until you reach Vermont Ave and take a left. Stay on Vermont Ave until you reach West Asheville Park and back where you started.
Length: 10.0 miles
Terrain: Pavement / Trail
Parking: West Asheville Park
South Slope Stroll:
Contributed by staff member Miranda Satterfield
Park at Jus’ Running or at W.T. Weaver Park and begin heading down Murdock Ave until it dead ends onto Hillside St. Take a Left on Hillside, followed by an immediate Right onto Charlotte St. Stay on Charlotte St for about ¼ mile and take a Right onto E Chesnut St. Go a block or so and take a Left onto Central Ave which will bring you underneath I-240 and onto Woodfin St. Take a Left on Woodfin St and then another Left at the traffic circle to get on College St. You will then take your first Right onto S Charlotte St and head downhill towards Church St. Take a Right on Church St, followed by an immediate Left onto Buxton Ave. Resist the temptations of mouth-watering aromas from Buxton Hall BBQ, and instead keep going straight onto you reach Coxe Ave. Take a Right on Coxe Ave which you will follow into downtown until it dead ends at Patton Ave. A Left onto Patton Ave, a quick Right onto Otis St, followed by a Right onto N French Broad Ave, a Left on Haywood St., and then an immediate Right onto Montford Ave. Enjoy the net downhill through Montford as you take a Left onto Courtland Ave and then a Right onto Pearson Dr. Remain on Pearson Dr (this road veers to the left at one point – make sure to keep staying on Pearson). After .6 miles on Pearson Dr., take a Right onto Watuga St and then your third Left onto Montford Ave, followed by a quick Right onto Panola St. Stay on Panola until you take a Right onto Cumberland Ave, and then a Left onto Catawba St. Hop onto the paved Reedy Creek Greenway to your Left just before intersecting with Broadway St. Keep going on this greenway (you will cross Broadway St at one point – there is a traffic light and crosswalk) until it ends at the intersection of W.T. Weaver Blvd. Take a Left on Merrimon Ave. and you will be finished when you see Jus’ Running! Congratulations.
Length: 6.3 miles
Parking: Limited Jus’ Running Parking
Photo by Rachel Veale
Contributed by JR staff Savanna Moeller
Route Description: Enjoy this flatter route that bisects North Asheville, Downtown Asheville, and Montford before returning back to the starting location at Jus’ Running (Merrimon Ave). The only hills runners will face are when crossing through Downtown Asheville and parts of Montford and are all fairly minor. Sidewalks are available for the vast majority of the route. The final ~1.5 mile of running is on the paved Reed Creek Greenway.
Route Instructions: Begin at Jus’ Running (523 Merrimon Ave). Take a Left out of the Jus’ Running lot and then an immediate Left and immediate Right to get onto Murdock Ave. Take a Left shortly after the Beth Israel Synagogue to get onto Evelyn Pl and then an immediate Right at the stop light onto Kimberly Ave. Run about ¼ mile and then take a Left onto Gertrude Pl. Take a Right once Gertrude dead ends at Evelyn Pl and then another immediate Right to get on Charlotte St. Begin running south on Charlotte St towards Downtown Asheville. You will cross over I-240 and then enter Downtown. Take a Right at College St. Go for about ⅓ mile then take a Left onto Market St and then an immediate Right onto Patton Ave. Go a few hundred yards and then take a Right onto Haywood St. Follow Haywood St until you see Montford Ave. Take a Right on Montford Ave which will take you out of Downtown Asheville and into Montford. Go about 1 mile down Montford Ave and then take a Right onto Panola St. Curve around Panola St and then take a Right onto Cumberland Ave. Curve around Cumberland Ave and then take a Left onto Catawba St. Take a left onto the Reed Creek Greenway which you will see immediately before Broadway St. Follow the Reed Creek Greenway (it eventually crosses Broadway St) all the way back to the finish of the route at Jus’ Running.
Length: 5.3 miles (8.7 km)
Terrain: Paved. Mostly flat with a few rolling hills
Patton Mountain Loop:
Contributed by JR Staff Rachel Veale
A +9 mile loop that will take you on a 1100ft climb up to Patton Mountain, a dirt road that offers a fantastic view of Merrimon. Park at the Jus’ Running Shop, and head north before taking a quick right onto Farrwood Ave, then another right onto Kimberley. Follow Kimberley as it turns to Edwin Place. When you hit the light, cross Charlotte Street to continue onto Cherokee Rd (it turns into Sunset Drive). Wind your way up Sunset until you hit an intersection with Old Toll Rd. Take a right, and then follow Old Toll Rd until taking a left on Bent Tree Rd, which turns into Crestwood. Follow until you hit the intersection with Town Mountain Road: take Sunset Summit on your immediate left at that intersection. Follow Sunset Summit until you hit the intersection with gravel Patton Mountain Rd on your left (congrats, all the climbing is done!) and enjoy the cruise down Patton Mountain. Once you hit the intersection with N Griffing Blvd, take a right and continue down Griffing until you hit Kimberly Ave. Head South until taking a right onto Farrwood, back where you started!
Length: 9.5 miles
Parking: Jus’ Running Shop
This beautiful chateau, with gardens and grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, has over 22 miles of pavement and singletrack trail lining the French Broad River and surrounding forests. Access to the Biltmore grounds requires a general admission ticket, which also includes admission into the Biltmore House and Gardens and the Antler Hill Village and Winery. See more about Admission here: https://www.biltmore.com/landing/ticket-options/
Length: Varying, up to 22 miles of pavement / trail
photo by Joanne O’Sullivan
Carrier Park Greenway
Spanning from French Broad River Park through Carrier Park and ending at Hominy Creek River Park, the French Broad River Greenway is a 2.7 mile asphalt multi-use path. A great route for a flat and fast workout. Stop by the Wedge Foundation for a beer and a game of cornhole after your run!
Length: 2.7 miles from one end to the other
Parking: French Broad River Park or Hominy Creek River Park
Trail / Mixed Terrain Routes
Asheville Botanical Garden Trail:
An urban oasis with a shady half-mile loop trail that highlights 600 species of plants native to the Southern Appalachians. Hop onto the nearby Reid Creek Greenway that connects at W T Weaver Blvd and Broadway if you want to extend your run with some pavement. Swing by Hi-Five coffee for a cup of coffee or a pastry while you’re in the area!
Length: Half-mile loop
Sam’s Gap to Big Bald:
Contributed by Luke Paulson
This is an out-and-back route on the single track of the Appalachian Trail and is one of Luke Paulson’s (Jus’ Running store manager) top three running routes in the Asheville area. 6 miles “out” and 6 miles “back” for a total of just over 12 miles. Expect well-maintained and well-marked singletrack for the entirety of this route that climbs from 3,800’ above sea level to 5,500’ above sea level. While the trail is maintained throughout the route’s entirety, it does get much more technical as you get closer to Big Bald (turn around point) featuring lots of scattered rocks in the final mile. Expect lots of uphill on the way “out” and lots of downhill on the way “back”, though most of the elevation change is gradual to moderate (only a few steeper inclines). Expect stunning 360 degree mountain views at the turn around point (Big Bald summit).
Route Instructions: Plan to park in the roadside parking lot located at Sam’s Gap (located 30m south of I-26 overpass). Enter the singletrack trail through the wooden fence on the other side of the street directly across from the parking lot (Old Asheville Highway). Stay on the singletrack for the entirety of this route. You will emerge onto Big Bald shortly after 6 miles. This is your turnaround point. You will go back the same way that you came from. Look for white spray painted dashes on the trees – these are your trailblazes and indicate you are on the right trail.
Luke’s Tips: This route is at 3k-5.5k feet above sea level which means temperatures will be about 10 degrees F less than in Asheville. Don’t be surprised to find significant snowpack in the winter months. While there is often flowing water along the route (especially in the 2 miles before the turnaround), plan to be self-sufficient and pack all the water and nutrition that you may need. Be careful – this route is for runners familiar with technical terrain and will take 2-5 hours to complete. Enjoy.
Length: ~12.3 miles (roundtrip total)
Terrain: 100% singletrack trail
Difficulty: Very Strenuous (recommended for runners capable of handling technical terrain for 4+ hours)
Parking: Sam’s Gap Trailhead off I-26
Photo by Rachel Veale
Bent Creek Experimental Forest
Bent Creek is the closest large trail-system within Asheville’s city limits, encompassing nearly 6,000 acres within the Pisgah National Forest. As an experimental forest, the land is multi-use: while it offers over 44 miles of public trail for runners, hikers, bikers, and horseback riders, the forest is also used by the US Forest Service in conducting research aiding in the rehabilitation of abused lands and the promotion of sustainable forestry practices. Demonstration areas and informational signs distributed throughout the forest offer a hands-on way to learn about the different forest management practices in place while enjoying your run!
Park at one of the three public trailheads off of Wesley Branch Road (Rice Pinnacle, Hard Times, or Ledford Branch) and explore the miles of gravel and singletrack Bent Creek has to offer. Pay attention while on trail – there are lots of bikers who enjoy this local favorite recreational area, too.
We recommend starting from the Hard Times parking lot and running around the beautiful Lake Powhatan, where several loop trails – Deerfield Loop, Pine Tree Loop, and Explorer Loop – make for beautiful add-ons to your run.
Length: Varying distances, possibility for out and backs and loops
DuPont State Forest
This state forest is tucked away in the Little River Valley near Brevard, NC. About 30 min southwest of Asheville, DuPont is a local favorite weekend go-to. With 10,000 acres of hiking and biking trails, waterfalls, lakes, rocky ridges, and mountain summits, this State Forest is a must-see (there is a reason why we have hosted an annual 12K here for 20 years and counting!)
One route we recommend: 7.6 mile High Falls / Three Lakes Loop. It is mostly gravel with a few easy singletrack segments. Park at the Visitor Center (water and restrooms available here) and head South towards several of the lakes on the DuPont property. You’ll pass Lake Dense, Lake Julia, and Lake Alford before heading back north to where you started. This route includes Buck Forest Road, Pitch Pine Trail, and the Three Lakes Trail.
Length: Varying distances
Beaver Lake Loop
This jogging trail forms a part-asphalt, part-dirt loop around the man-made Beaver Lake and the surrounding neighborhood. Beautiful water and mountain views. And you can stop for a cup of coffee and a donut at Geraldine’s Bakery right down Merrimon road after!
Length: 1.9 mile loop
Parking: Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary
Warren Wilson College Trails:
Located in Swannanoa, about a 15 minute drive outside of Asheville, Warren Wilson College’s River Trails cover pastoral meadows and farmland with lots of swimming opportunities. For parking, find a visitor parking space on campus. You’ll find the main River Trail West and River Trail East trailhead where Warren Wilson Road crosses the river. There are 25 miles of hiking/running trails on the school’s property – park only where allowed and don’t block gates. The college’s farm fields are off-limits to visitors.
Length: 1-5 miles
Mountains to Sea Trail:
North Carolina’s state trail and longest marked footpath, the Mountains to Sea Trail (or the “MST” as we say around here) stretches almost 1,200 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. In the Asheville area, the MST roughly parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway, and can be accessed at various points for a good out and back run – we recommend parking at the Folk Art Center, Rattlesnake Lodge Trail at the intersection of the Parkway and Ox Creek Road, or Craggy Gardens for exceptional mountain views. The entirety of the MST is marked by white blazes.
Fun Fact: One of the area’s most historic trail races, the Shut-In Ridge Trail Race hosted every November by Jus’ Running, is a 17.8-mile section of the MST that runs from the mouth of Bent Creek all the way to the Mount Pisgah parking area. With over 5,300 feet of elevation gain, this run is a significant challenge.
Length: Out and back varying distance
photo by Justin Costner
Snooks Nose Trail:
A local must-see, and not for the faint of heart! Located at the southeast end of the Pisgah National Forest, this trail starts from the Curtis Creek Campground (about 30 miles east of Asheville). The trail follows an old logging road that ascends 1775 feet over 2 miles up to the Snooks Nose Lookout. Be prepared for incredible views, with the Linville Gorge to your east and the Blue Ridge and Black Mountains to your west. For even more views, continue out 2 more miles to the fire tower at Green Knob.
Length: 4-8 miles
photo by Lyle Mitchell