There's also a new map with most of these trails, Trails Illustrated Linville Gorge / Mount Mitchell, that you should definitely buy if doing this ride w/o a local guide.
This ride is serious business. I did it last night after work ending in the dark, so it's fresh in the mind. You need decent backcountry and riding skills. If you make a wrong turn, you can end up 2 miles and 2,000 feet in elevation off course before you realize it. If you do not know how to read a map with confidence plus have good fitness and skills, do not try to do this. And, as is, plan on 6 hours- it may take more, may take less, but 6 hours is a good plan. 4 hours is a good time for fast locals not racing.
Personally, I don't recommend this for an out-of-towner ride w/o a guide.
On another thread, you asked about fish hatchery riding- it doesn't suck, that was tongue-in-cheek, I'm guessing, but at this time of the year, there's a lot of people/summer camps plus a key linkage trail (Cat Gap) is closed from spring-fall to bikes. Caney Bottom and Daniel Ridge, however, are great rides that are open (with far too much tourist/summer camp traffic) this time of year.
I would also suggest that you not try this ride alone. It's a big one. That being said, I'm planning on doing it this Sun. Time not yet determined, but probably leaving Montreat between 9-10, and it usually take about 5 hours. This time of year I'd bring LOTS of water.
Mr. runner- that's funny, always interesting to "see" a screen name tied to a face.
The light worked good, but not great. I really appreaciate the demo, it's helping me make an informed decision. I was already planning on bringing it by today.
Have fun- this trail was in great shape to say the least. There's some new trees down and other changes, so be careful.
A forum community dedicated to Mountain Bike owners and enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about bike parts, components, deals, performance, modifications, classifieds, trails, troubleshooting, maintenance, and more!