Bent Creek Area

Bent Creek is located in the northern tip of the Pisgah Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest just 15 minutes from downtown Asheville. Bent Creek’s watershed contains a collection of trails for all kinds of hikes, for beginners and familes to advanced hiking groups. Bordered by the Blue Ridge Parkway to the south and a moderately high ridge to the North, this watershed is a federal Research and Demonstration forest, so you can learn more about forestry management techniques as you hike. This also means, however, that the forest is subject to research closures, and it is imperative to stay on the trail and out of research areas.

A campground, mountain lake, and family recreation area, combined with its close proximity to the city of Asheville, make this area very popular with tourists and locals alike – yet it is not as crowded as some may have you think. Plenty of miles of trails means the people will be spread out. Trails here connect with the Mountains to Sea/Shut In Trail, two of Pisgah’s most popular long-distance trails. This trail network is very popular with mountain bikers as well, so be sure to share the trail!

Bent Creek’s trails are varied, like much of Pisgah. The area is bordered by the young Pisgah Ridge to the south and a moderately high side ridge to the North (including Stradley Mountain), with elevations ranging from about 2100′ to a modest 4100′. Most of the easier trails are clustered around Lake Powhatan, where several loop trails – Deerfield Loop, Pine Tree Loop, and Explorer Loop (listed in increasing difficulty) make nice, short family hikes. The Homestead trail (which loops around the lake) and Campground Connector trails are two other excellent easy trails. More difficult trails on the north side of Bent Creek Gap Road include Sidehill, Lower Sidehill, and Little Hickory Top. Other trails and connectors make loops of various difficulty possible on this side of the road.

Starting near the mouth of Bent Creek as it dumps into the French Broad River is the Shut-in Trail, which ascends Shut-in Ridge and generally follows the Parkway all the way to the Mount Pisgah parking area many miles to the South. (Incidentally, there are at least two Shut-in Ridges I know of, the other being in the Davidson River Area beyond Mount Pisgah.) This is the most strenuous of Bent Creek’s trails. The Mountains to Sea Trail also follows this route but continues in both directions at the Shut-in Trail’s ends. This dual trail follows the southeast border of the Bent Creek area and several of Bent Creek’s trails intersect it, including Hardtimes Road and the Sleepy Gap trail, making long distance hikes into the Mills River and Davidson River areas possible. You can also access this trail from the Parkway at the French Broad River, Sleepy Gap, Bent Creek Gap, and Beaverdam Gap, all shown on the Bent Creek Map.