Clocking in at 3.3 miles, the Explorer Loop is perfect for a quick after-work exercise session, or a leisurely stroll with the family. Mostly following old roadbeds, this route only has a few steep sections – and the rewards are the getting to explore the lower section of the Bent Creek area. There are lots of trails that intersect the Explorer Loop, so keep an eye on your trail blazes and remember to check your map.
Directions: From Asheville, take I-26 east to Exit 33 for Highway 191 (this is the exit for the new Outlet Mall). Turn right on 191 and head about 2 miles, following signs to Lake Powhatan and the N.C. Arboretum. Turn right onto Bent Creek Ranch Road at the light and continue to follow signs to the lake and arboretum. Turn right onto Bent Creek Ranch Road, and then make a slight left onto Wesley Branch Road. After passing the Ledford Branch parking lot, continue on the gravel Bent Creek Gap Road to the 2nd pull-off on the left.