Southwest of Asheville in the Pisgah National Forest, the mountain bike trails from the Hard Times Trailhead in the Bent Creek Experimental Forest are excellent.There are several good starting points at Bent Creek, the most popular being the Hardtimes Trailhead. Others include the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area, the Lake Powhatan Campground, Ledford Branch Road and Boyd Branch Road.
To get to the Hardtimes trailhead from Asheville, head west on US240 to US26 east and get off on exit 2, NC 191. Turn left, pass the Biltmore Square Mall, and head south on NC 191 for 2 miles. Turn right at the stoplight onto Bent Creek Ranch Road, following the brown signs to the Lake Powhatan Recreation Area (bear left at fork after 0.2 mi on this road). The paved, signed Hardtimes trailhead parking area is just over 2 miles down this road on the left.
Overall, Bent Creek - Hard Times Trailhead is the 3rd most popular mountain bike trail of all 24 mountain biking rides in North Carolina.