Review and Information about the Fire Mountain Trail System in Cherokee, NC
Fire Mountain is my new favorite trail system. Sure, I don’t get out much so that may not be the strongest endorsement but the feedback I get from everyone who has ridden it includes huge grins, head bobs and complete agreement that it’s tons of fun.
The 10 mile intermediate trail system was built by Trail Dynamics. You know, the guys that built Ridgeline in DuPont and the Western Carolina University Trails. Like any master, you recognize their style and in this case that’s purpose built flow with technical flourishes (jumps, rock gardens, log balance beams) that you can engage with or bypass, depending on your expertise.
The Fire Mountain experience goes something like this. Ride up. Bomb down. Do it as many times as you can. (I usually do only one.) Expect extended and in some places steep, but smooth climbing. Any way you cut it you’ll pay the gravity tax for anywhere from two and a half to three and a half miles to the apex of the system. But take my word it’s worth every pedal stroke and breather break to earn the ride down the one-way Kessel Run trail.
There are two ways up and three options down. Uktena is the most direct and narrowest way to the top where Spearfinger is a little longer but wider. At the top you have three options for descending. Uktena is narrow techni-rhythm, Spearfinger is a wide rhythm trail and Kessel Run, the crown jewel of the system is dubbed a wide rhythm-jump trail. If you have only one shot at it definitely take Kessel Run. Turn on your Go-Pro and hang onto your brakes as you rocket through berms, rock gardens and bridges. Catch air on at least a dozen table-tops and jumps, or keep the rubber on the trail if that’s more your style. When the trail ends, hop on Lazy Elk for some more fast downhill to the overlook, then back to the parking lot via Tinker’s Dream.
Other trails in the system can be used to make your route shorter, longer, or to just mix it up a little. Waya is a smooth flowy trail that boasts the cool feature of passing under an elevated bridge. Then there’s the Firetower trail which isn’t really part of the new trail system at all, but runs through the middle of it creating intersections with the MTB trails.
The trail system is well marked. You'll find maps with a "you are here" designation on them so you can't get lost (unless you're my friend Lori).
Don't have a bike? Don't worry. Bryson City Bicycles - 10 miles from the trailhead - can set you up on a high quality mountain bike rental that includes a helmet and vehicle rack.
So what are you waiting for? Ride Fire Mountain!