Take advantage of the ‘Year of the Trail’ in North Carolina—and our state’s thriving brewery culture—by biking to these trail-adjacent breweries.
It’s hard to beat the combo of bikes and brews when the weather gets warmer, and there’s no time like now to bask in North Carolina’s spoil of both, as 2023 has been deemed the Year of the Trail.
From the mountain towns of Brevard and Boone to urban greenways in cities like Raleigh, the Tar Heel State is full of gorgeous bike trails and plenty have easy access to local breweries.
Feel like cruising along a river before bar hopping? Asheville was made for that. Need a beach day and a brewski? Wilmington can make your dreams come true, especially if you love IPAs. Craving a beer brewed with local ingredients after a breezy day of cycling? Charlotte’s got you covered.
We’ve gathered a list of some of the best places to cool off with a brew after touring around on two wheels. A word of caution: Use some common sense out there. Don’t get drunk and drive a bike. It’s dangerous, for you and other people on the road.
Without further ado, here’s our guide:
North Carolina’s most famous craft beer city is home to a number of scenic bike trails, including two along the French Broad River.
On the east side, start at the River Arts District, where you can pop into quirky shops and art galleries and enjoy your first brew at Wedge Brewing Company (there are two additional locations, including one downtown). Their beers are high on accessibility, from the Locomotion Hazy IPA to the easy-drinking Payne’s Pale Ale, either of which willl get you ready to ride up Riverside Drive (be careful — this route shares the road with cars) or meander the relatively flat Wilma Dykerman Greenway.
On the opposite side in west Asheville is the French Broad River Greenway. The southern entrance of the 2.8-mile trail is at Hominy Creek River Park, and winding north will take you along the river through wooded areas and two parks — Carrier and French Broad River — before ending just shy of New Belgium Brewing Company.
A huge name in craft beer, New Belgium originated in Fort Collins, Colorado, and opened its massive, sustainability-minded Asheville location in 2016. It’s hard to go wrong with the famous Fat Tire Ale or many Voodoo Ranger options or stay on theme with the crisp, appropriately named lager, Mountain Time.
Both trails are close to downtown, making for an easy ride to a plethora of other Asheville breweries. One of the closest neighborhoods via surface roads is South Slope, where Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium, Twin Leaf Brewery, Catawba Brewing, Green Man Brewery, Burial Beer Co., Hi-Wire Brewing, and Asheville Brewing Company all within a couple blocks of each other.
Wedge Brewing Company, 37 Paynes Way, Asheville; (828) 505-2792
New Belgium Brewing, 21 Craven St., Asheville; (828) 333-6900
High Country is a gorgeous area to bike around, and there may be no brewery more convenient to a trail than Booneshine Brewing Company in Boone.
After enjoying a leisurely loop around Brookeshire Park, you’ll head right into the brewery, which is practically an extension of the trail. Located right next to the park, the gorgeous industrial space is accented with a mixed wood bar and high tops, and its large outdoor space is home to a beer garden and food truck. Many of its flagship beers pay homage to the town, like the East Boone pilsner, High Country Honey amber ale, Boomerang Trail Ale, and Booneshine IPA, but you also can’t go wrong with Space Pegasus, a New England-style IPA outfitted with, you guessed it, a pegasus on its can.
Lost Province Brewing Co.’s second location at Hardin Creek, which acts as a production brewery during the week but opens its taproom to the public on the weekends, is a short jaunt west on surface roads. The brewery’s original location opened downtown in 2014, and both spots are focused on giving back to the local community.
The brewery’s moniker derives from the name given to Ashe, Alleghany, and Watauga Counties in the late 19th century due to their location west of the Blue Ridge, which cut them off from the rest of North Carolina. But plenty of people are finding Lost Province now. While at the brewery that shares the region’s nickname, get cheeky with Hipster Juice, a New England IPA, or test your taste buds with Cinnamon Girl, a cinnamon bun ale created in collaboration with local favorite Stick Boy Bread Company.
Though a little bit further of a trek, Boone is also home to Appalachian Mountain Brewery, which focuses on community, sustainability, and philanthropy while brewing Appalachian-inspired suds with a Southern focus.
Booneshine Brewing Company, 465 Industrial Park Dr., Boone; (828) 278-8006
Lost Province Brewing Co., 289 Daniel Boone Rd., Suite B, Boone; (828) 386-1328
Appalachian Mountain Brewery, 163 Boone Creek Dr., Boone; (828) 263-1111
If you like your trails with a side of waterfalls and white squirrels, look no further than Brevard. The town is situated next to Pisgah National Forest, where there are dozens of spurs to choose from, including the legendary and difficult Black Mountain Trail.
After tackling a gravel ascent, you’ll reward yourself at the peak with gorgeous views of Black Mountain, then maneuver through a technical descent of almost 2,000 feet. There are a number of trails that can be accessed from Black Mountain, including Turkeypen Gap and Buckhorn Gap, and different sections offer a variety of difficulties, with the lower one being slightly less bumpy than the upper. No matter which course you choose, you’ll certainly earn your beer!
Once that workout is complete, you’ll be just ten minutes away from Oskar Blues Brewery. In 2012, the Colorado-based brewery opened its East Coast production facility in Brevard. They dubbed their taproom the Tasty Weasel, where there’s always fresh Dale’s Pale Ale, and they’ve got their own burger-centric food truck, the Oskar Blues CHUBwagon. Eight miles from the brewery is their lodging and events space, Reeb Ranch, which serves as a great base camp for bikers and festival goers.
Looking for a more casual trek? The Brevard Bike Path is a mostly flat, five-mile jaunt that takes bikers from the old Carr Lumber Company railway to the Davidson River Campground, with plenty of shady woods and river views in between. Within a mile of the southern terminus at McLean Road and Railroad Avenue is Brevard Brewing Company.
Started in 2012, Brevard holds the distinction of being the first brewery that opened in Transylvania County and the only one in western North Carolina with a specialization in lagers. The cold-fermented, German-inspired brews include classic styles like a Bohemian Pilsner and Munich Dunkel, but American ales, including a hoppy IPA and a red ale, are also on tap. Two additional breweries are also located nearby, Noblebräu Brewing and UpCountry Brewing.
Oskar Blues Taproom, 342 Mountain Industrial Dr., Brevard; (828) 883-2337)
Brevard Brewing Company, 63 E. Main Street, Brevard; (828) 885-2101
Queen City has a number of urban multi-use trails, but the best beer-adjacent option is the decade-old Little Sugar Creek Greenway. With its paved roadway and mostly flat surface, the greenway makes for a casual ride through some of the city’s historic neighborhoods and provides easy access to local shops and eateries.
The greenway is also a great way to check out some of the best-known breweries in the area, including two north of Cordelia Park that are steps away from each other. Kick back at NoDa Brewing’s OG location with their Hopsadaisical IPA or beloved Cheerwine Ale, a wheat beer brewed with the classic soda, then wander next door to Free Range Brewing. The brewery prides itself on using local ingredients and forging relationships with farmers and foragers, and their beers are Carolina spins on classic styles, like Barracuda Bill’s, a Carolina Psuedo-Pilsner, and Therapy Session, a Carolina Hazy IPA.
Just off the southern end of the route is Birdsong Brewing Co. It started as a small neighborhood brewery, and now its beers can be found across the state. Focused on being as environmentally conscious as they can be, the brewery is solar powered and 100% of their spent grains are sent to a local cattle farm. As for the beers themselves, the Jalapeño pale ale is a kicky favorite, and Higher Ground is a West Coast IPA that pairs well with a breezy bike ride.
In addition to the breweries just off the trail, Heist Brewery, Protagonist Beer, The Chamber by Wooden Robot, and Divine Barrel Brewing can be found a little further north in the NoDA neighborhood, and Catawba’s Charlotte taproom is slightly east of Birdsong in Belmont.
NoDaBrewing – The O.G., 2229 N. Davidson St., Charlotte; (704) 900-6851
Free Range Brewing, 2320 N. Davidson St., Charlotte; (980) 201-9096
Birdsong Brewing Co., 1016 N. Davidson St., Charlotte; (704) 332-1810
Western North Carolina has hundreds of trails to choose from, but one of the most scenic and historic multi-use options is one still being completed: the Fonta Flora State Trail. The route was originally called the Lake James Loop Trail but later changed its name to honor Fonta Flora, an African American settlement that was submerged when the Catawba River was dammed to create Lake James.
Once completed, the 19-mile-long trail will connect downtown Morganton with downtown Asheville.
Three trail segments have been completed, including the Catawba River Greenway in Morganton. Start at the Rocky Ford Trailhead and wind your way along the river through Catawba Meadows Park, where you can stop to zipline or play a round of disc golf. Then cut east on North Green Street toward downtown, and you’ll find Fonta Flora Brewery, which also has satellite locations in Charlotte and Nebo.
At their original tasting room, a cozy, historic flatiron pub, one of their most popular brews is Hop Beard, a West Coast-style “Mountain Man” IPA, which is the perfect capper to a day spent traversing the Foothills. Their flagship brew, Mimosa City, a mimosa-style white ale brewed with Earl Gray tea and coriander, is just as refreshing and perfect for brunch. In addition to beer, they have their own kombucha as well as draught wine.
A little further east at the end of the Jonesboro Historic District is Sidetracked Brewery, which offers up artisanal beers like Thomas the Dank Engine, a hazy IPA, and Weizenbahn, a Bavarian-style hefeweizen that won a gold medal at the 2019 Carolinas Championship of Beer.
In-between is Hillman Beer’s temporary taproom in the former Buff Tire space on South Green Street. A family-run brewery with locations in Asheville and Old Fort, they are building out their permanent location in Catawba’s old brewery in Morganton and are scheduled to open in late 2023 or early 2024.
Fonta Flora Brewery, 317 N. Green Street, Morganton; (828) 475-7501
Sidetracked Brewery, 609 S. Green St., Morganton; (828) 544-5840
Many of the capital city’s breweries are centered in the downtown area, but it is possible to find beer near bike routes. A good option is the Crabtree Creek Trail, which hugs the northern bank of Crabtree Creek, making for a leisurely, tree-lined jaunt away from busy city life while still being a quick on-off for shopping or food.
Head north from the trail access point along wooden bridges and around river bends, until you reach Wake Forest Road. Once there, you’re only a couple of turns from Funguys Brewing, a self-described mom-and-pop brewery with a penchant for ales and lagers. Hazy IPAs are a popular choice at Funguys, but don’t sleep on their flavor-forward options, like imperial pastry stouts or “Smoothsicles,” heavily fruited, smoothie-style sour beers. Both are a little heavier than one might opt for on a day of cycling, but don’t your tastebuds deserve a treat?
Though not on the biking route, there are other brewery options nearby in Forest Acres and Hi-Mount, including Lynnwood Grill & Brewing Concern, Nickelpoint Brewing Company, and Neuse River Brewing & Brasserie.
Fungus, 2408 Paula St., Raleigh; (984) 289-3814
The Port City’s Gary Shell Cross-City Trail lives up to its name. The 15-mile, off-road spur is a park-heavy route, staring at Wade Park and meandering through Halyburton, Empire, and McCrary Parks and the outskirts of the University of North Carolina Wilmington campus before spitting walkers, runners, and bikers out at the Heide-Trask Drawbridge, just west of Wrightsville Beach.
While there are plenty of longleaf pines and ponds to enjoy along the trail, much of the route flows along major Wilmington roads. On one of those, Randall Parkway, is Flying Machine Brewing Company. The brewery is an open, steampunk-inspired industrial space right off the trail with a large indoor bar and outdoor patio. There are a wide variety of styles across its 30 taps, including popular varieties like Electronic Fog IPA, Dreamy Eyes Cream Ale, and Luscious Fruited Sour, but their sought-after slushie beer, which rotates flavors, is a local favorite.
The Cross-City Trail connects to the River to Sea Bikeway, allowing riders to keep on going downtown or to Wrightsville Beach, where Flying Machine’s brewpub is located. Breweries are scattered all across the Cape Fear region, but the easiest one to get to without straying too far off the trail’s course is Wilmington Brewing Company. Home of Tropical Lightning, the unofficial beer of Wilmington, the brewery is a 10-minute bike ride from Flying Machine’s main facility and boasts ample indoor seating and a scenic side patio that overlooks a wooded area of town.
Flying Machine Brewing Company, 3130 Randall Parkway, Wilmington
Wilmington Brewing Company, 824 S. Kerr Ave., Wilmington; (910) 769-0293