Kerr Scott Trail Guide
Some of the best mountain biking in the Blue Ridge can be found along the scenic shores of W. Kerr Scott Reservoir near Wilkesboro. The lake is home to over 20 miles of sweet singletrack, with more under construction.
The trails at Kerr Scott were built by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. They're fast, fun and ready to ride!
Trails at Kerr Scott include:
, a 7.5-mile network of trails on the north side of the lake
Fish Dam Creek Trail
, a singletrack connector trail from the tailrace of the dam to the top of the ridge at Dark Mountain
Warrior Creek Trails
, a network of singletrack trails currently under development near Warrior Creek Campground. As of summer 2008, about seven miles of trail are open and ready to ride.
: Dark Mountain parking area
: Take N.C. 268 west from Wilkesboro. Three miles past U.S. 421, turn right at the large W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir sign onto Reservoir Road. Follow Reservoir Road across W. Kerr Scott Dam and turn left at the flagpole. The parking area is at the end of the driveway down the dam. Click here for directions to Kerr Scott from out of town
: About 7.5 miles
: Singletrack, with a core jeep road
: Dark Mountain is a series of trails laced into both sides of a rugged wooded ridge. Loop after loop of singletrack rolls through a mature hardwood forest. The trails at Dark Mountain are steep, tight and fast with good flow and lots of variety. Three wooden decks atop the ridge offer wide views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Dark Mountain is a federally-recognized National Recreation Trail. For more information on the Dark Mountain trail system, click here to view our Dark Mountain trail preview
: The climb from lake level to the top of the ridge is tough, and you'll do it several times as the trails climb and descend over and over. Downhill riders will enjoy a long run of optional jumps and obstacles.
: All routes are numbered and identified with permanent signage that is coordinated to the Dark Mountain trail map. Signs also have red and blue arrows. The red route
is shorter, easier and less technical...perfect for new mountain bikers. The blue route
includes the entire 7.5-mile BURN 24-Hour Challenge course.
Overmountain Victory Trail
: W. Kerr Scott Visitor Assistance Center parking area
: Take N.C. 268 west from Wilkesboro. Three miles past U.S. 421, turn right at the large W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir sign onto Reservoir Road. Follow Reservoir Road 0.4 mile and turn left at the Visitor Center sign. Park in the lot near the Visitor Center. The trailhead is on the other side of the access road. The trail can also be accessed from Bandits Roost Campground
and Marina Road. Click here for directions to Kerr Scott from out of town
: 6.0 miles (one way) plus Shiner's Run, an optional 2.5 mile side loop
: OVT flows past views of the lake, dips deep into the woods through a quiet stream on a rock crossing and traverses steep hillsides with mature hardwoods and boulder outcroppings. OVT offers the most flowing trails at Kerr Scott. Every turn is bermed and the climbs are relatively friendly. This trail is part of the federally-designated Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. It follows the general route that patriots from the area trod to reach the Battle of Kings Mountain in October 1780.
: OVT has some short climbs. It is easier and less technical than Dark Mountain. OVT is suitable for cross bikes.
: White triangle (OVT); Yellow blaze (Shiner's Run)
Shiner's Run side trail:
"Shiner's Run" is a 2.5-mile singletrack loop that snakes from the ridge and winds along the lakeshore before climbing back to the main trail. The Shiner's Run loop branches off the OVT just east of Marina Road. Great lake views.
: Tailrace and Fish Dam Creek picnic area
: To reach the Tailrace trailhead, take N.C. 268 west from Wilkesboro. Two miles past U.S. 421, turn right at the Shell station onto Old N.C. 268 (SR 1176) . The tailrace parking area is 0.8 mile ahead on the right. To reach the Fish Dam Creek trailhead, take N.C. 268 west for three miles past U.S. 421. Turn right onto Reservoir Road and cross the dam. The trail begins on the right near the large picnic shelter. Click here for directions to Kerr Scott from out of town
: About one mile. Trail links to over six miles of singletrack at Dark Mountain.
: The Fish Dam Creek Trail begins at the spillway at the foot of W. Kerr Scott Dam. It crosses the spillway, follows scenic Fish Dam Creek for a short distance, then snakes its way up a wooded ridge. The left fork of the trail leads to a picnic area at the top of the dam; the right fork skirts the edge of a large field and re-enters the woods to climb to the top of the ridge at Dark Mountain. This short, scenic trail passes through a shady rhododendron tunnel and past a huge old growth hemlock.
: The Fish Dam Creek Trail is trail #8 in the Dark Mountain system.
: The winding climb from the creekside to the top of the ridge will get your attention.
: Warrior Creek Campground
: 7.5 miles is rideable currently with more being built nearly every weekend
: The Warrior Creek Loop, when complete, will completely encircle the campground, following the folds of the lake. The Headwaters Loop will be built in 2009, with the Marley's Ford Loop to follow in 2010.
: The trails at Warrior Creek are the toughest at Kerr Scott. They're steeper with more technical climbs and turns.
Dark Mountain Trail Preview
Plenty of sweet singletrack to enjoy at Wilkesboro's Kerr Scott Lake
Dark Mountain a mecca for mountain bikers
The mountain biking at Wilkesboro's W. Kerr Scott Reservoir
is drawing rave reviews from riders and positive notice nationally.
"Kerr Scott Lake is positioning itself to become a destination mountain biking area," raves the International Mountain Bicycling Association.
Kerr Scott's crown jewel is Dark Mountain, a 6.5-mile network mountain bike trails set in a wooded 140-acre site on a ridge just north of W. Kerr Scott Dam.
A rider who's competed in several 24-hour races on the 1996 Olympic mountain bike course near Atlanta rates the trails at Dark Mountain better overall.
Triad-area mountain biker Randy Schmitz is also singing Dark Mountain's praises.
"The whole car ride home to Greensboro we did nothing but plan our next trip (to Dark Mountain) and rave about the trail system. You guys have done an amazing job over there and I want to contribute to your efforts in any way I can," Schmitz said.
's Thanita Adams checked out Dark Mountain during the BURN 24-Hour Challenge. "(Dark Mountain is) a seven-mile loop of undulating singletrack. The trail twists and turns, following the contours of the land, and riders were pretty much either climbing or descending the entire time. This meant they had to constantly be on their game, but one thingís for sure, no one got bored out there. The trails were built with long-term use in mind, and are pretty much a shining example of properly built, sustainable and really fun trail."
The trails at Kerr Scott are also getting buzz from some internet mountain bike sites. MTBReview
riders rate Dark Mountain 4.67 flaming chilis out of 5. Dark Mountain is rated #23 worldwide at Singletrack.com
. The trails at Kerr Scott are also listed at TrailLink
and Dirtworld. Click here to read a selection of rider reviews of the trails at Kerr Scott.
Dark Mountain: How to get there, what it's like
The Dark Mountain trail system begins at the edge of the large field at the north end of W. Kerr Scott Dam, just a few miles west of Wilkesboro.
To reach the Dark Mountain trailhead, take N.C. 268 west from Wilkesboro. Three miles past U.S. 421, turn right on Reservoir Road. Follow Reservoir Road across the dam and turn left at the flagpole. The parking area is at the end of the driveway down the dam. Click here for directions to Kerr Scott from out-of-town
The core trail, a doubletrack jeep road, runs up a forested ridge and across the top. A network of interlocking singletrack trails loops off the jeep road.
Dark Mountain's toughest climb comes at the start, as the trail leaves a large field at lake level to ascend the ridge. Look for trail signage and bear left to follow trail #1 to the top. The singletrack ascent is much easier than the steep, rutted jeep road.
Trails are scenic and challenging
The payoff for the opening climb is an awesome view. Three wooden decks atop the ridge offer wide views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
The trail network features loop after loop of singletrack trail rolling through a mature
forest with tall poplars and pines. You'll roll through a rhodendron tunnel, dip past an old homestead, skirt the edge of a pony pasture and cruise past a finger of the lake on the trails.
Trails are in top condition for fast, fun riding
While the trails have some tough spots, they're built to be fast and fun.
Dark Mountain sits atop a granite vein, so thereís very little mud, even after heavy rains. ďThe Dark Mountain site is made to order for mountain biking,Ē says R.G. Absher of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
A visit a few days after a big rain found miles of bone-dry singletrack. The trails were designed to be durable in wet weather, employing IMBA trail building techniques.
The trails are well groomed, with just a few rooty spots...perfect for a fast spin through the woods. You'll encounter a few steep climbs and several soaring descents along with lots of fairly level riding along the ridgetop.
Members of BMCC's trail care crew frequently tweak the trails to improve the overall flow.
Fly high on Dark Mountain's downhill run
Along the way, the trail network features several jumps. If you're not into daredevil stunts, don't worry. The jumps are easily avoided by staying on the main trail.
The ride from the ridge top ends with a rush...a long, fast roller coaster of a downhill with berm turns and several jumps for the fearless flyers. The rock garden on the Exit Trail (Trail #6) has a well deserved reputation for producing skinned knees and elbows. There's no alternate route around this tough spot, so new riders should scout it and proceed with caution.
Finding your way through a maze of singletrack
To find your way around the maze of trails atop the ridge, download the
Dark Mountain Trails map
. Copies are available at the W. Kerr Scott Visitor Center, Boone Bike & Touring in Boone and Cook's in North Wilkesboro.
The map includes trail descriptions and notations on the difficulty of the loops. Permanent signage on the trails coordinates with the numbered routes on the maps. Signs also have red and blue arrows. Follow the red arrows for an easy ride. Follow the blue arrows to take on the entire 6.5-mile BURN 24-Hour Challenge course. All told, Dark Mountain boasts eight signed mountain bike trails. Most of the trails are loops that interconnect and feed back into the core jeep road.
To view and print the latest version of the Dark Mountain trail map,
download the PDF version by clicking the link below:
If you don't have Adobe Acrobat on your computer,
Dark Mountain Elevation Profile
Some Kerr Scott trail reviews:
"I really enjoyed (Dark Mountain)...the climbs weren't too bad. Iíll admit the whole time up I was like 'OK, Iíve seen no good downhills...something better change.' It did. The downhill run from the top to the parking lot was worth the whole climb. Iíve been wanting to get back real bad ever since. Iíll admit when I get back, Iím gonna be a little girl and push up the downhill and play there all day. If you're close to these trails, go to 'em. Theyíre worth the time and drive, especially if you got the gears."
"Dark Mountain is a GREAT place to ride! The trails are in great shape and the terrain is awesome! The volunteers we talked to were VERY nice and helpful...The Overmountain trail was also a good ride. Overall a great trail with some nice views of the lake and surrounding mountains."
"Trail construction and layout is superb ---sweeping turns and long striaghts for speed, quick switchbacks and some steeps to get the legs warm. Relaxing - but mid-level challenging - great aerobic network (wish we had a trail like this as a weekly / daily training ride - just enough - not too much!). Best part of the ride was the last loop which is a rocket speed ride down a ridgeline towards the lake, droppping from the top, to lake elevation, then back up. What a great finish to the network! The exit trail (same as entrance) has some superbly constructed log jumps, hops, and is pure pleasure - fast sweeping turns, switchbacks through gullies... Really nice area! Congrats to Brushy Mtn. Club on this site. Beautiful area."
"Rode in the 24 hour BURN race and was highly impressed with these trails. From a construction standpoint - excellent. From a riding standpoint - excellent. Nice climbs, nice descents. Some cool optional lines over rocks and log piles. Damn, these boys did it right. I take my hat off to them."
"Just got to ride this again after several months . We were with a group of about ten and this set of trails rocks.The new stuff is fast and twisty. They have added a few nice jumps and log piles. It's much more packed down now and feels like you are on a roller coaster so much fun. Take your lunch and picnic by the lake and ride another lap or two. You'll have a fine day of riding."
"Awesome downhills combined with great climbs makes this trail very challenging for all. It is very easy to ride just the parts you like by connecting them via the main road. Can't wait to go back!"
"OVT is packed and kickin! A few jumps are thrown in for good measure. Great flow.... Great singlespeeder trail. Dark Mountain trails are as always great and well maintained. Great flow. The rock garden on the downhill is sick fun and after a week the scabs are ready to come off and they really taste great."
"This trail system is awesome. There are plenty of challenging climbs, log piles, a couple of North Shore style tree rides, nice downhill sections and some newly incorporated jumps on the Overmountain Victory Trail section. I highly recommend this trail to anyone. I would also recommend not riding anything over a 35-lb. bike on this trail due to the climbs."
"The trail is always maintained neatly and anything they build is built to hold up.
Fast, fast downhills...nice switchbacks...humps that'll send you into the air...bermed curves that you can just rail through..."
"This trail is awesome. Plenty of climbing, and nice smooth downhills. If you get the chance, check this place out...you won't be dissappointed."
"These trails are great fun and just get better every day. I have rarely seen more than two or three other riders, but I always see the the guys of BMCC working or riding. This is a labor of love for them and their dedication shows! Don't be too proud to use your AG (Almost Granny) gear on some of the uphills and you will be able to ride it all. Do expect some difficult terrain, with numerous tight switchbacks, narrow paths with trees just beside them, some significant dropoffs, major whoop-dee-dents, etc. Fun, fun, fun!! Kudos BMCC guys!"
"What a great system of trails that the Brushy Mountain Cyclist Club have set up. Great long descents on loops #7 and 8, tough climbs on loop #5, this trail has it all. If the downhill course does not take your breath away, the scenery will."
"These trails have some of the best downhill section I have ridden. There are many man made jumps that I had to go back and run them a few times to get used to them. The uphill sections are long also but they lack in the tough climb that I like. I believe they have kept the grade considerably under 10%. Overall these are some great trails and I will be going back. I really need to get my friends down here."
OVT: "Awesome trail - unlike anything else in the area. It's all singletrack, but this trail flows so amazingly fast. The climbs aren't steep or long, but they are plentiful on the way out to Bandit's Roost. You will realize on your way out that the return ride will be blistering. The berms are built very well, so riding in with speed isn't a problem. There are plenty of roots so you have to be ready for some slippage, but that's the fun of mountain biking."
"The course was so much fun that I never got sick of it."
Danielle Musto, women's solo winner, 2006 BURN 24 Hour Challenge
(Danielle rode about 196 miles over the course of the 24 hour event!)
Leave no trace. Stay on existing trails...don't create new ones. Don't cut switchbacks. When the trailbed is muddy, consider other riding options. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
Always yield the trail. Let your fellow trail users know you're coming. Anticipate other trail users around corners or in blind spots. Slow down, establish communication and be prepared to stop if necessary. Trails are used by hikers, trail runners and dogs as well as fellow cyclists.
Ride safely. Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you're riding -- and prepare accordingly. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
Don't modify or relocate stunts. This can endanger other riders. All trail changes must be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Don't get locked in. If you're riding at Dark Mountain, note what time the dam will close before you park. If you'll be riding after hours, park at the visitor assistance center or in the small lot near the dam gate and ride across the dam and down the hill to the trailhead. The road across W. Kerr Scott Dam closes at 4 p.m. through the winter. After 4:00, the gate will be locked.
Bring plenty to drink. There are no facilities on the trails. Water and flush toilets are located in the W. Kerr Scott Visitor Assistance Center and at Bandits Roost Campground. Mens and ladies latrines are located in the Fish Dam Creek Overlook picnic area near the circle.
Call if you need help. If you need assistance from a ranger, call (336) 921-3390. If you need immediate medical attention, call 911.
Report unsafe trail conditions
. If any area of the trail needs attention, please contact BMCC's Matt Adams
or Jim Horton
Follow park rules. Park only in designated parking areas. Camp only in designated campgrounds. No alcoholic beverages. No fires except in designated areas. No hunting. No littering.
Blazing the Trail at Kerr Scott
Mountain bike trail building at Kerr Scott began in November 2002, spurred by a trail building clinic conducted by the International Mountain Bicycling Association's Subaru Trail Care Crew. IMBA standards for trail safety and sustainability have guided trail development at Kerr Scott from the very beginning.
Members of the Brushy Mountain Cyclists Club built the trail network, assisted by community volunteers including local Boy Scouts. The project ranks as one of the biggest volunteer projects in community history, with well over 6,000 hours logged.
BMCC has received financial assistance from the Wilkesboro Tourism Development Authority, Source Beverages, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, Boone Bike & Touring and IMBA.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers controls the public land at Kerr Scott. Without the cooperation and assistance of the USACE, the trails at Kerr Scott would not have been possible.
Want to lend a hand?