Stage 1 - Asheville - Asheville

Original - 103 Miles | 10,908 ft (166 km | 3 325 M+) ·
May 17

The opening stage of Haute Route Asheville circumnavigates Mt. Mitchell. After rolling out of downtown Asheville, riders will reach the first challenge about 3 miles into the stage. The climb up Elk Mountain Scenic Highway rises 1300 feet in 5 miles. The first half of the climb is steady and steep, and after a short reprieve in the middle the climb finishes with a stair-step series of steep pitches.

Following a descent and rolling roads through the valley, riders will reach the town of Barnardsville. The Compact and Original routes diverge in Barnardsville, with the 55-mile Compact route taking a left to complete a rolling 12-mile loop. Upon returning to Barnardsville, the Compact route heads back toward Ashevile over Paint Fork Gap and Bull Gap, and zips over to the Town Mountain descent to get back into town.

In Barnardsville, the Original route takes a right onto North Fork Road. After five miles of gradual climbing riders will hit a significant 4.4-mile climb that rises 1250 feet under dense tree cover to the top of Cane River Gap. The reward for reaching the summit is one of the most fun, twisty, and technical paved descents in the area. From the base of this descent riders will benefit from regrouping to share the pacemaking over the next 25 miles of flat and rolling terrain.

After passing Dick’s Gap, Stage 1 turns onto the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile 63, on the way to the high point of the day at nearly 5700 feet above sea level. As the Blue Ridge Parkway passes to the south of Mt. Mitchell, riders will tackle three climbs over the span of about 18 miles, topping out on Bullhead Gap near Craggy Gardens. Once riders reach a short tunnel at Mile 84, the rest of the stage is essentially downhill back into the heart of Asheville!

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