Background and the Trailhead
Tucked away in the town of Belmont, Rocky Branch Trail is the latest creation from the Tarheel Trailblazers. Just 15 minutes from Uptown Charlotte, Rocky Branch is approximately 4.5 miles. The trail had its origins on the Tarheel Trailblazers website forums this past year. Belmont’s city manager reached out to the mountain bike club looking for assistance on building their first mountain bike trail. In less than a year, the trail has evolved from concept to singletrack. The trailhead has a brand new parking lot located in a quaint neighborhood. Next the parking lot is a kiosk that has a map of the current trail (the master plan calls for 20 miles). The trail starts innocently enough as you head past the first gate and into a clearing. The trail then bends off into woods and begins winding between the trees. The first thing I notice is the attention to detail in building this trail. Every sign for an extension or loop has the exact mileage and is clearly marked. It has the best signage of any trail located in Charlotte metro hands down.
It is a mix of intermediate to expert singletrack. The soil is clay based which is consistent with most trails in the area. There are occasional rocky and rooty sections that will challenge even the most seasoned rider. Along with the technical terrain, the trail has some wide open areas as well as some tight corners. I wouldn’t consider this a beginner trail, but there are plenty of other options for the first timer in Charlotte. As a long time mountain biker I was thoroughly impressed with the trail. While riding, I stopped and spoke to another rider who lives in the neighborhood and rides it a couple times of week. In our exchange, he summed up my thought, “I can’t believe this gem is in my backyard”. As a resident of Charlotte, I couldn’t agree more.
A big thank you to the city of Belmont and the Tarheel Trailblazers