The Best Fall Bike Rides and Cycling Routes in North Carolina

Mild temperatures, dry weather, and breathtaking colors easily make fall most cyclists’ favorite season. Whether you’re looking for long straightaways, hairpin turns, or steep climbs, North Carolina has it all. Discover our favorite bike routes in the state, where to eat and drink along the way, and why we ultimately think the mountains make for the best fall trip!

Your comprehensive guide to fall biking in North Carolina!

Our favorite bike routes by region

From the mountains to the piedmont to the coast, North Carolina has 3 distinct regions to satisfy riders of all levels. Here, we divulge some of our favorite cycling routes by region, along with our tried and true restaurants and watering holes to hit along the way.

Note: Due to COVID-19, please check local tourism websites for the most up-to-date information before you plan your ride.

Mountains

With destinations along the Blue Ridge Parkway including Mt. Mitchell, Roan Mountain, and Brevard, our road-tested GPS routes connect riders of all skill levels with the best trails North Carolina’s mountains have to offer.

Peak leaf season, cool, dry days, and apple-picking—there simply is no better time to experience Western North Carolina than in the fall.

Where to eat: Cúrate is a culinary experience. Created by nationally acclaimed chef, Katie Button, this popular restaurant specializes in Spanish tapas and is known for its extensive wine selection and cocktail menu. We recommend ordering the piquillo peppers stuffed with Spanish goat cheese and a Perfect Gin and Tonic (or 2).

Where to drink: Wicked Weed Brewing is one of Asheville’s most popular breweries for a reason. With enough beers to please even the pickiest beer snobs (plus a full bar), and 3 locations throughout town, Wicked Weed is a must while you’re in Asheville. We recommend the Napoleon Complex for its hop-forward yet refreshing taste.

If there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s replenishing burned calories after a long ride. Get all of our tips for eating and drinking your way through Asheville with our DIY Bike Tour Packet.

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Fall cycling offers the perfect combination of cool temperatures and beautiful scenery.

Piedmont

We love biking the Piedmont area for its rolling hills and mild fall weather. We recommend checking out Duke Forest, an area with over 30 miles of cyclist-friendly forest roads, perfect for leaf-peeping. While you’re there, be sure to ride around Duke’s beautiful campus.

Looking for a longer ride through the Piedmont? Hit the Carolina Connection Trail, a 200-mile section of US Bike Route 1 that stretches from just north of McColl, South Carolina, to Kerr Lake in Virginia.

Where to eat: After a long ride through Duke Forest, enjoy Durham’s fine dining scene with a delicious Mediterranean meal at Parizade. The roasted chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese and spinach is to die for, and their expert staff will help you pair it with the perfect glass of wine.

Where to drink: Quench your thirst with a hand-crafted Southern brew from Fullsteam Brewery, located just blocks away from Duke University. From the classic lineup to more experimental hazy IPAs and fruited kettle sours, Fullsteam’s got it all.

Coast

Fall is easily one of the best times to hit the Carolina coast for cycling and enjoying the beach. Hatteras Island Bike Trail along Highway 12. 25 miles of flat, uninterrupted road nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound. A multi-use sidewalk was recently added to sections of the highway if you want to get off the main road. Make sure to check out the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous, explore the Buxton Woods, a 2,000-acre maritime forest.

Where to eat: Diamond Shoals Restaurant in Buxton is the only sushi bar on Hatteras Island—and it also has some of the best clam chowder we’ve ever tasted. Their seafood is caught right off the island, and owners Keith and Angela Grey are typically on-site rolling up sushi or chatting with guests. If you’re a sushi lover, you can’t go wrong with their famous Spider Roll. If sushi’s not your thing, we promise the catch of the day won’t disappoint. Pair with a carafe of saké or a local pint.

Where to drink: When cycling the Outer Banks, save time for a ferry ride over to Ocracoke Island to grab a beer at 1718 Brewing Ocracoke. From summer wheats to sours, 1718 Brewing has just the beer to hit the spot after a long day in the saddle.

Bike races throughout the state

Although COVID-19 has seriously impacted large gatherings this year and cancelled North Carolina’s highly anticipated Mountains to Coast Ride, the state still has some great fall biking events.

2020 Bookwalter Binge Gran Fondo

Asheville, NC —Oct. 31. In proper COVID fashion, the 2020 Bookwalter Binge Gran Fondo will be held pop-up style, with riders choosing from a variety of routes including challenging climbs, thrilling turns, gravel roads, and everything in-between. After you’re done riding, join fellow cyclists for the after-ride Binge Bash, hosted by the Old Fort Ride House.

Biketoberfest

Charlotte, NC —Oct 24-25. This year’s Biketoberfest is modified to be a “Choose Your Own Adventure” ride, allowing riders to socially distance themselves while exploring different parts of the Queen City. Although there won’t be a starting location this year, you can still partake in a Selfie Scavenger Hunt and win some great raffle prizes.

Find more upcoming fall cycling events on BikeReg.com’s calendar.

Where to bike, stay, and eat in Asheville, NC

North Carolina has it all—miles of pristine coastline, rolling hills, and vibrant cities—but by far our favorite area to soak in all of the beauty fall has to offer is the mountains. When you pedal the world-renowned Blue Ridge Parkway, breathe in the crisp autumn mountain air, and explore Beer City (aka Asheville), we think you’ll agree!

Asheville’s DIY Bike Tours can help you plan your fall adventure

Instead of scouring the web for hours on end trying to plan your dream Western NC cycling trip, download our DIY Bike Tour Packet. We’ve spent years building up local knowledge, guiding tours, finding places to stay, and perfecting bike routes so you don’t have to. Take comfort in knowing that our guide is an all-in-one toolkit for having the best biking adventure in the Asheville area. Here’s what you’ll get:

  • Access to our library of proven GPS routes
  • Our favorite bike rental outfitters
  • Hotel and bed and breakfast recommendations
  • Information about local festivals and markets
  • And so much more!

Don’t pay a touring company thousands of dollars to plan your trip when we’ve compiled all the knowledge you need to have a dream cycling vacation in our comprehensive and easy-to-use packet!