Staire Creek (Big Ivy North Tour) Ride
At A Glance
Tread Condition: Moderately Rough
Climb: Climbs Moderately
Total Elevation Gain: 1500
Configuration: Loop on gravel roads and singletrack
Starting Point: Corner Rock picnic area on FS 74 near Barnardsville
This ride takes the rider through a very scenic, lush forest with huge trees. This ride has a steep gravel road climb, gravel road cruising, and a very steep, technical singletrack downhill. Scenery along the way includes many streams, cascades and waterfalls including Walker Falls, and a cave. A remote, rugged area surrounds the ride.
From Asheville, take I-240 West to US 19-23 north/I-26 West toward Weaverville. Follow this highway for just over 12 miles. Take exit 15 for NC 197, Jupiter/Barnardsville. Turn right toward Barnardsville at the end of the ramp. Follow NC 197 (a 2-lane highway) about 6 miles to the town of Barnardsville. Turn right onto Dillingham Road just past the old fire station. It's about 6 miles to the National Forest from here; stay on Dillingham Road the whole way. You will cross a few one-lane bridges, and the road will turn into gravel at FS 74; there is a sign for the Big Ivy area. Park at the picnic area, about .4 mi up this road, on the right, across a concrete bridge.
Note: major maintenance work was started on Staire Creek trail in Fall 2015 and the Forest Service has announced its closure to horses and bikes while that is completed. Expected re-opening is March 2016.
Ride out of the picnic area parking lot, cross the concrete bridge, and turn right on FS 74 to begin the ride. This starts out as a gentle climb but quickly becomes quite steep. The road passes through a beautiful cove hardwood forest along Corner Rock Creek. Some of the trees growing here are enormous. Several trickling tributaries join the creek under the road from the left.
After nearly two miles of relentless climbing, the road will curve right and level out (::ahhh::), cross Corner Rock Creek, and resume the climb up the opposite valley wall (::groan::) through more lush, second growth forest. In the fall, this forest becomes a tunnel of color. The road will round the ridge and pass into a cove to cross Little Andy Creek, where there is a small cascade. The climb moderates some here, allowing you to catch your breath and enjoy the moist woods that surround you.
After rounding Big Andy Ridge, you'll encounter a fast downhill section of the road. At the bottom of this is a huge cliff face on the left, Snake's Den Rock, which is a very popular rock climbing spot. A good view opens up to the right here.
Resuming a moderate climb, you will begin to hear Walker Branch roaring below you in the cove. Appearing to the left as you catch up with the stream is Walker Falls, a cascading slide. The road goes right past the base of the falls, which are most impressive after wet weather but attractive anytime. 0.1 mile past Walker Falls, there is another small cascade on the left. Climbing gently now, the road will go around Walker Ridge next. An easy ride from here will take you to the signed intersection with the Staire Creek trail. Turn right onto it, riding through the grassy clearing and onto the trail leading into the woods.
Check your brakes (seriously!), because this trail will drop you 1,200 vertical feet in a little over a mile. It is very steep and technical. You'll cross a small tributary, then the trail will pass by a huge rock cave on the right. It will then switchback down onto an old road bed, and start following the scenic, cascading Staire Creek itself downstream.
The steepness moderates some, but the trail becomes quite rocky as it follows the stream downhill. At one point, the rushing water on the left can be heard in stereo as it bounces off a rock face to the right. Shortly beyond that you'll reach the intersection with the Walker Creek Trail.
The grade moderates considerably beyond the junction, but the trail becomes a lot muddier at the same time. Next, you'll cross Walker Creek - it may be difficult to keep your feet dry here during wet weather. You will then reach the end of the Walker Creek trail, and FS 231. Turn right.
Follow this gravel road back to the picnic area and your vehicle to finish the ride.
All Photos from This Ride
|Start||Ride out of the parking lot, turn right, and turn right again on FR 74 to begin riding uphill.|
|1.8||Road flattens, curves and crosses Corner Rock Creek, then resumes the climb.|
|3.2||FR 74 begins downhill after going around Big Andy Ridge.|
|3.6||Bottom of downhill; Snake's Den Rock is on the left. Road resumes climbing.|
|3.9||Walker Falls is on the left.|
|4.6||Road curves around the crest of Walker Ridge and becomes more level.|
|5.2||Intersection with Staire Creek trail. Turn right and ride through the grassy clearing to begin the long, steep downhill.|
|5.9||Middle of a steep downhill. Trail passes a large rock cave on the right.|
|6.3||Intersection with the Walker Creek trail. Turn left.|
|6.6||Crossing of Walker Creek; may require getting wet if the water is up.|
|6.9||End of Walker Creek trail. Turn right on the gravel road.|
|7.3||Finish; turn right into the picnic area parking lot.|
Green highlight indicates the route to follow within the trail network for this ride.
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