Location: 1370 Bone Camp Rd, Marshall, NC 28753
Bring your “A” game to Bailey Mountain Bike Park or it will break you off. My brother can tell you first hand about this unforgiving beast. He broke his collar bone, 5 ribs, concussion, and a partially collapsed lung. If you are a good rider don’t let me deter you from checking this place out. This is a must ride for anyone looking for an outstanding year around downhill experience in Western North Carolina. They obviously close for major snow or rain, but otherwise are open year around.
The scene at Bailey Mountain is the kind of thing I have dreamed of building myself for years. You pull into a gravel parking lot at the base of a steep Western North Carolina Mountain. There are no permanent buildings as of now. Just a couple of portable shade canopies, and a port-a-john. It’s a family run business with the Mom manning the check-ins, and the son cranking on the small but legit rental fleet featuring Santa Cruz V10. Waiting to shuttle you up to the top are a couple of old school flat bed military trucks. The ride to the top is an adventure all by itself. They require you to stand over the front wheel of your bike while holding the stem, and hanging on by your uphill hand to the rail you are leaning against. This place is in its infancy. It is definitely rag tag at the moment, but the trails are world class. The small time operation should not deter you from checking out this gem. That being said this is no Winter Park or Angel Fire. The adventure of the ride up is just a precursor of the adventure you are about to experience on the way down.
My brother, his girlfriend, and I stumbled across this place while planning a trip out to Western North Carolina. This place is STEEP. The easiest run down the mountain is not for beginners. They flat out state on their own website “While a bike with 140 mm of full suspension travel is ridable, a downhill specific bike with 200 mm of travel is recommended. Enduro bikes are acceptable. Your bike will need working disc brakes. Rim brakes are not acceptable.” My brother and I both have 160 mm enduro bikes which are as they say “acceptable”. When I go back I will definitely rent one of the V10s. I highly suggest you read Bailey Mountain FAQ page before buying your tickets. We rode Bailey Mountain Bike Park in October 2016. At the time it was in pretty rough shape according to the regulars. Late summer heavy rains followed by immediately zero rains made for a very rutted out, and loose downhill track. The lack of any rain in recent weeks had made it impossible for the owners to shape the trails back to ideal form. This is in no way a complaint towards the owners who obviously care deeply about Bailey Mountain. It was just unfortunate timing on our part. The same locals that explained to us the current conditions of the trails also insisted we must come back when they are able to get Bailey Mountain Bike Park back into premium form.
We got on the first shuttle of the day on Friday. The Owner’s son rode up with everyone on the first ride up. At the top he explained to everyone that the right trails were all black, and the left trails were all blue. Don’t let their trail rating “Blue” fool you. They are only blues at Bailey Mountain. Anywhere else these trails would be probably be blacks. The owner’s son immediately offers to lead a group down the easiest trail, Banshee, which we took him up on. I was the first one following him down. You immediately drop in a steep trail and dive straight into a nice big berm. Probably 2 or 3 big berms down you hit a straight away with a 2 foot rock ledge right in the middle of the trail. Luckily I was following the son who charged straight at drop. If you take the high left line the drop is very manageable for all skill levels. My only complaint of the entire park is that there was signage indicating a drop. On my third run down I tried to skirt around the drop just check out the line, and ate shit in the loose gravel on the right side of the trail. I am proud to say this was my only spill on my 4 runs at Bailey. The entire trail is a blur of perfectly built berms, table tops, and blistering downhills. You literally can’t help put get your tires off the dirt at Bailey. More than once I found myself getting air where I had no plans of getting off the ground. I can’t wait to come back and check out this trail when it is groomed out a little better.
After a few runs I decided to take a lap off. My brother and his girlfriend went ahead and took the shuttle up without me. After several minutes I started suiting up to get ready for the next shuttle. I started hearing some commotion at the base of the trail, and see my brothers girlfriend standing over my brother laying on the ground with his bike several feet away. I immediately sprint up the hill where everyone sprung in to help. He was sitting up when I got there, but struggling to breath. He had come off the final jump at the bottom of the hill and over shot the landing coming down on his front wheel, and slamming the right side of body. When I got to him he was clearly in shock and a little concussed. The owners immediately called an ambulance. Within 5-10 minutes the Mars Hill EMS and Fire Department were on the scene. They got my brother loaded up on a stretcher, and on the road to Mission Hospital in Asheville NC 30 minutes away. All the riders and the owners were extremely kind through the whole process. Helping me load all of gear in my truck so I could get on the road behind the ambulance. The owners even refunded both of our lift tickets for the following Saturday. My brother spent 4 nights in the hospital. On day 3 he had surgery to repair his collar bone. He is already making plans in 2018 to come back to Bailey and get vengeance on the mountain that took him down.
Riding up in the flat bed you get time to chat up the other riders. Every trip up the mountain we talked with locals who raved about riding Bailey. They were more than happy to take you out, and show you their favorite lines. The most shocking thing about Bailey is that the locals down in Asheville, North Carolina which is only 30 minutes away are almost all oblivious that Bailey Mountain Bike Park even exist. We came out to this region mostly to ride single track. I am shocked to find that almost no one is aware that Bailey Mountain even exist. It won’t be long before everyone is aware of this amazing trail system. The entire day we only saw a total of maybe 30 riders.