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.
Banner Photo by Michael Tracey
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
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
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
Patton Mountain Loop:
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
Trail / Mixed Terrain
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
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