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The Best Horse Trails
in Western North Carolina
Trail Riding in Western North CarolinaPisgah National Forest
The Pisgah National Forest is very popular for horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking. With its beautiful streams and hardwood forests, there are lots of trails that follow historic logging roads and railroad grades and many offer loop rides. Most trails connect to the South Mills River Trail.

There are many points of access to Pisgah National Forest. Close by to Misty Oaks Farm, there are three access points including the South Mills River (Turkey Pen), Davidson River and North Mills River.

South Mills River (Turkey Pen)
The South Mills River area has one of our favorite trail systems.

Directions to South Mills River, 
located 1 mile South of Misty Oaks Farm:

From Misty Oaks Farm, turn left going South on Hwy 280 toward Brevard. Go approximately one mile, and just as you enter into Transylvania County, you will turn right at FR 297. If you enter early in the day, it should be easy to go up the one lane gravel road to the parking area. If you arrive after noon, the parking lot may be full and would be extremely difficult to turn around with a trailer of any size. There is space to park at Hwy 280 and ride your horse up the road to the trailhead.

South Mills River Area Trails:
  • The South Mills River Trail is 12 miles long, and has 13 tricky river crossings with no bridges.
  • The Horse Cove Gap Trail is 1.2 miles and is a connector trail that joins several long loops.
  • The Cantrell Creek Trail is 1.9 miles. It is a streamside, wooded trail that is closed to horses between Horse Cove Gap and Squirrel Gap Trails.
  • The Bradley Creek Trail is 5.1 miles with many stream crossings, no bridges and some fields.
  • The Mullinax Trail is 1.2 miles long and is an old logging road that is used as a loop connector.

North Mills River Area
Located in the Pisgah Ranger District, the North Mills River Area Trails have gated forest roads and multiple loop riding opportunities. Hikers and mountain bikers share these trails, and the routes are marked with signs and different colored blazes. The area is located Southwest of Asheville off NC 191/280.

Directions to North Mills River Area Trails, 
located 8 miles North of Misty Oaks Farm:

From Misty Oaks, turn right going North on Hwy 280. Go 3 miles and at the red light  turn left onto North Mills River Road. Go 5 miles to the Mills River Campground. You may park on the right side of the road, just before the campground where indicated by a sign for horse trailers. Walk through the campground, and enter the Riverside Trail on the right after you cross over the river on the bridge.

You may also turn right on Wash Creek Road, just before the campground. Go about 1.5 miles North from North Mills River Campground. Turn left and cross a low concrete bridge, and continue 0.5 mile to the parking area. This is Trace Ridge Trailhead, and there is space available for several horse trailers. There are two primitive campsites which can accommodate horse trailers on FR 5000 (Wash Creek Road), but there are no facilities available.
NOTE: This trailhead may be crowded on weekends.

North Mills River Area Trails:

  • The Big Creek Trail is 4.9 miles long. This is a streamside trail with creek crossings, 
    and horses are not allowed past the Bee Branch.
  • The Fletcher Creek Trail is 2.4 miles long. This streamside trail has easy grades 
    and goes through fields where there are lots of wildlife.
  • The Middle Fork Trail is 1.8 miles long, and is an old railroad grade that winds 
    through several wildlife fields.
  • The Spencer Branch Trail is 2.3 miles long. This trail is streamside and steep.
  • The Trace Ridge Trail is 3.1 miles long, along a Ridgetop which provides beautiful
    Fall and Winter views.

Davidson River
The horseback riding area at Davidson River is several miles from the river, up highway 276. The horse area is near the Pink Beds Cradle of Forestry area.

Directions to Davidson River, 
located approximately 8 miles South from Misty Oaks Farm:

Turn left out of Misty Oaks onto Hwy 280 heading South. Turn right at the intersection of Hwy 280/64/276. Turn right onto Hwy 276 and enter into Pisgah National Forest. From U.S. 276, turn onto Yellow Gap Road (FR 1206) near Pink Beds Picnic Area. Turn right onto FR 476 and go about 0.7 mile. You may park in the roadside campsite on the right side of the road.

Dupont State Forest
DuPont State Forest has trails which are used by hikers, bikers, horseback riders, fishermen and hunters (during season). See the Hunting Schedule on the Dupont Website. All trails that are open to horses are clearly marked. Tie-outs for horses are provided near the waterfalls and other points of interest. The trails are open from daylight to dark with no public camping facilities. Park in spaces designated for horse trailers at the Lake Imaging parking lot, located on DuPont/Staton Road, 1/2 mile north of the Hooker Falls Access Area; and the Guion Farm Parking Lot, located on Sky Valley Road. Coggins are required. .

Directions to Dupont State Forest, located approximately 12 miles from Misty Oaks Farm:

Turn left out of Misty Oaks onto Hwy 280 heading South to US 64. Turn left onto US 64 and go 3.7 miles to the stop light. Turn right onto Crab Creek Rd and go 4.3 miles to DuPont Road. Turn right onto DuPont Rd and go 4.2 miles. DuPont Rd becomes Staton Road.

Dupont State Forest Area Trails:

  • The Waterfall Loop is approximately 2 hours long that crosses Little River 
    and has views of four major waterfalls. The Little River crossing has rocks 
    which can be slick, with water up to two feet deep when the rainfall has 
    been heavy. There are also two wooden bridges.
  • Lake Imaging Access Area. There are several trails that lead off of this trail, 
    but to do the loop stay on Lake Imaging Road.
  • See covered information signs or Park Rangers for free trail maps.

Biltmore Estate
he Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC is a great place to ride. There is limited primitive camping and a six-stall barn available for additional fees. The Biltmore Estate features several wonderful restaurants, not to mention a tour of the house, gardens and estate.
NOTE: To ride the trails at the Biltmore Estate, you must pay a daily trail fee and purchase a daily Biltmore Estate ticket, or you may purchase an annual Biltmore Equestrian Pass. Reservations are required; call 828-225-1454.

Directions to the Biltmore Estate,
located approximately 20 miles Southeast of Misty Oaks Farm:

Turn right out of Misty Oaks Farm going North on Hwy 280. Take I-26 West to I-40 East, and look for the Hwy 25 exit. Turn left and go approximately 1 mile, follow the signs to Biltmore House entrance.

Biltmore Estate Trails:

  • There are over 80 miles of well-makred horse trails that include 
    some wide open spaces and great views of Biltmore House.

Great Smoky Mountains
The East side of the Smokys is approximately 50 minutes away. Lots of horse trails and great wilderness areas to ride, but have caution for spooky horses as there are many elk in this area.

Directions to Great Smoky Mountains, 
located approximately 50 miles from Misty Oaks Farm:

From Misty Oaks Farm take 280 North to I-26 West. Take I-40 West to the east side of Smokys. Exit 20 is the first area. Follow the winding gravel road over the mountain down into Cataloochee Valley.

Harmon Den Area
Located in the Appalachian Ranger District, the Harmon Den Area Trails features Cool Springs Creek flowing through woods and grassy fields. You can see traces of old farming and logging areas, railroads and old settlements. There is easy parking and many miles of trails in a wild area, with primitive roadside camping available along FR 148.
NOTE: There is no camping allowed at Harmon Den parking areas.

Directions to Harmon Den, 
located approximately 50 miles SE of Misty Oaks Farm:

From Misty Oaks Farm, take 280 North to I-26 West. Take I-40 West to the Harmon Den exit, which is near the Tennessee state line. Head Northeast on FR 148 (Cold Springs Road) about 3 miles to the Harmon Den parking area on the left. Look for additional parking for horse trailers at the lower junction of FRs 148 and 3526, and the Robert Gap Trailhead at junction of FR 148 and SR 1182. Also parking available at the Cherry Ridge Trailhead on SR 1182.
Harmon Den Area Trails:

  • The Buckeye Ridge Trail is 5.4 miles long and includes beautiful panoramic
    views through grassy fields and wooded areas.
  • The Cherry Creek Trail is 1.6 miles long, and is steep with tight switchbacks
    and some rock obstacles.
  • The Cherry Ridge Trail is 1.1 miles long and is also steep, but connects Harmon 
    Den and Max Patch.
  • The Cold Springs Trail is 3.6 miles long, and is primarily a streamside, wooded trail 
    with some Winter views.
  • The Robert Gap Trail is 2.5 miles long and includes old logging roads, wooded 
    areas and some Winter views.
Contact Misty Oaks Farm
For more information, please call Steve Adams at 828-230-5840.
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Horse Trails in Western NC

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Mills River, NC 28759

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