Places to Ride Your Side by Side in North Carolina

Places to Ride Your Side by Side in North Carolina

North Carolina is a beautiful state with lots of places to explore, including the Great Smokey Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you’re looking for ATV or UTV trails to ride your side-by-side or other offroad equipment, check out this list of the 9 best places to ride in North Carolina.

If you’re in the market for a new or used offroad vehicle, check out our inventory at Waynesville Cycle Center. We have been in the industry since 1970 and can’t wait to help you find your next adventure- whether you’re interested in off-road adventures or a long trip through the mountains. We have hundreds of options in stock and ready for you to try.

9 Best Offroad Trails to Ride

Brown Mountain Trail System

The Brown Mountain area has 34 miles of trails and is ideal for off-highway vehicles or OHVs. Since there is plenty of signage, you’re not as likely to get lost as you explore the area. Plus, if you want to make the most of your time on the trails, you can purchase a detailed map.

Most of this trail system is set up for ATVs, UTVs, and trail bikes. There are some limited areas where 4WD (four-wheel drive) vehicles and Jeeps can go.

No matter which vehicles you plan to use for off-roading, the Brown Mountain Trail System is primarily intermediate to difficult. If you have young children in your group, we do not recommend this one. Also, there’s more to this trail system than exploring the wilderness- there are also picnic areas, fire rings, grills, restrooms, grocery stores, and general stores along the way. After all, you’ll want to take breaks during your adventure.

Finally, if you’re interested in extending your exploration for more than 24 hours, there are some campsites along the way.

Daniel TR 390

This is a 2.1-mile-long single trail, but it is one of the most difficult on this list. It is ideal for experienced riders who need a challenge. However, despite the difficulty, it is a popular trail.

This trail is open even on rainy days, which increases the excitement level for those who are looking for an adrenaline rush. Some of the trails require you to make a reservation in advance- this one does not.

You can camp in the area if you wish, just make sure that you get rid of your trash. You will find plenty of trash cans, so you have no excuse not to use them. Since parking is necessary for any trail, for those who reach the most challenging area of this one, you can park at the Cotton Place Trailhead.

Badin Lake Complex

The Badin Lake Complex is located in the Uwharrie National Forest. It is full of off-road trails that are ideal for dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs, and even 4WD vehicles. One of the best parts about this trail system is that there are safe, well-developed campsites. If you would like to camp after a long day of exploration, you’ll find showers and toilets that you can use.

The Badin Lake Complex trail features 8 trails ranging in difficulty from easy to difficult, so it’s important that you are knowledgeable about the area so that you don’t accidentally stumble upon a trail that is outside of your expertise. Also, since there are so many trails within this system, you can go somewhere with lots of people around or choose somewhere that is more private.

The Daniel TR 390 is one of the 8 trails in the Badin Lake Complex. It is the most challenging trail in the system. If you’re looking for something easier, you have 7 others to choose from Rocky Mountain Loop, Wolf Den, Dickey Bell, Sawmill, Falls Dam, Slab Pile, or Dutch John.

Musterground Trail

The Musterground Trail is approximately 13 miles long and, since it’s not too easy or too challenging, it is ideal for adrenaline junkies as well as those who occasionally go out and explore the trails. Due to the lush forest and the various bodies of water, it’s also a perfect system for photographers, nature lovers, and social media users. Hikers and fishermen also enjoy these surroundings.

The trail is covered in gravel, which makes it suitable for pets, if you enjoy bringing along your furry companions. For the most part, people use their 4WD vehicles and ATVs on this trail and if you want something challenging, there are some slightly big rocks and steep slopes along the way.

Even if it’s been rainy, you don’t have to worry about the ground being too mushy or the puddles being too hard to handle. Most vehicles can easily handle the puddles along the way.

Wash Creek Road

Wash Creek Road is approximately 11 miles long and it’s secluded, making it perfect if you want an off-road experience where you can feel the adventure. There is some light traffic, but the dirt/gravel trail is good for beginners as well as experts. It is a bit easier than many of the others because you don’t necessarily need a 4WD vehicle- some have been on this trail in a minivan.

If you decide you’d like to camp out, you have plenty of options on both sides of the trail and there is a beautiful view where you can take lots of photos as you explore. If you look carefully, you’ll come upon a grassy area as well.

As mentioned, this trail is 11 miles long, which can give you an unforgettable adventure and you will definitely appreciate ascending higher and higher.

Bent Creek Road

Bent Creek Road is a lot like Wash Creek Road due to the light traffic, dirt/gravel terrain, and river. It’s ideal for nature treks and off-road adventures for those who don’t have a 4WD vehicle. However, it’s a lot shorter at only 4 miles.

If you want to explore on foot, there are plenty of parking spots. You can visit the overlook and soak in the surroundings- the view becomes much more spectacular as the sun is setting.

The end of the trail passes through a tunnel, which is cool. Even if the trip is much shorter than some of the other options, the forest feel is refreshing. The endpoint of Bent Creek Road is just below the Blue Ridge Parkway, which will provide you with even more beautiful spots to visit.

Rockhouse Creek Road

Rockhouse Creek Road is only 3 miles long, which is shorter than Bent Creek Road. It’s a moderately difficult trail with a variety of activities such as camping, running, and hiking.

If your vehicle uses all-terrain tires, beginners will enjoy adventures on this trail even more. After all, not only are all-terrain tires designed for off-road places, but they can also handle the impact from the bumps along the way.

It’s also important to know that this trail has a few different sections. The first part is narrow while the next is maintained by the State and idea for people and vehicles. There are plenty of campsites along the rest of the trail.

Jocassee Gorges

Jocassee Gorges is one of the more difficult trails on the list. The terrain consists of a lot of rocks, muddy sections, hills, and bodies of water. This trail is risky if you’re a beginner, but if you’re experienced, it can be one of the most exciting locations.

After traveling for a few miles, you’ll come across the steel bridge, which is an ideal location for selfies and scenic photos. Finally, don’t miss the campsites and the gorgeous views of Lake Jocassee. The lake is actually located in South Carolina, but you can see some parts of it along North Carolina trails.

Carolina Backwoods

This trail is a fun destination that is built specifically for ATV enthusiasts. If you like to be prepared for your trips, you don’t have to worry about making an itinerary, the business will handle the tour for you. The best part is, that beginners can learn the basics of trail riding, which means it’s perfect for families.


North Carolina is a gorgeous state with plenty of places to explore. If you’re looking for a place to ride your off-road vehicle including ATV or UTV, check out these 9 trails.