Written by Ann Gibson for RootsRated Media in partnership with OrthoCarolina.
At 5,506 feet, the town of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, claims the distinction of being the highest town east of the Rockies. A natural epicenter for winter snowsports, Beech also becomes a mountain biking mecca in summer, with miles of high elevation trails to wide-open views across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just a two-hour drive from Winston-Salem, Beech offers biking, hiking, disc golf, yoga, and more, with temps that are, on average, 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the Triad. Escape the heat and humidity this summer for a weekend with equal parts of outdoor adventure and relaxation at Beech Mountain.
Championship Mountain Biking Trails
Riding the Emerald Outback is a unique opportunity to bike intermediate to advanced singletrack, all above 5,000 feet, to epic views of Roan Mountain and the Elk River Valley to the west and Grandfather Mountain to the south. Winding through stands of beech trees along the rocky mountainside, six miles of trail flows in contiguous loops and connects with more singletrack nearby for as many miles as you can handle in a day.
Beginners can warm up on flowy Oz Forest and Wizard’s Way before working up to the advanced features, all with bypass options, on more advanced trails. Experienced riders can hop on Jackalope’s to tackle the punchy climbs, creek crossings, and technical sections on Southern Ridge. Don’t miss the flowy berms and rock jumps on the descent off Oz Forest. Well-marked bail-out points cut back to the trailhead when you’ve had enough. An additional two miles of advanced trail opens this summer, adding drops and rock features that make the most of the steep terrain.
For another flowy downhill, ride Emerald Outback to the West Bowl Connector Trail. You’ll meet up with the remote, 2.5-mile West Bowl Loop to Pinnacle Ridge Rd. for a grueling two-mile climb back to the start. The Town of Beech Mountain maintains the trails and offers lessons for a nominal fee and free guided rides with a certified mountain bike instructor. It’s BYO bike and helmet, which you can rent from Magic Cycles or Headquarters Bike Shop. All trails are multi-direction and shared with hikers and dogs on leash.
A serious downhill rush is waiting at Beech Mountain Bike Park. Trails carve through the forest and across what are the resort’s ski slopes in winter. Challenging terrain and monster berms have drawn pros from all over the country for Pro GRT races and the U.S. MTB Nationals. Beginner-friendly Green Mamba is a smooth place to start, with approachable berms and smaller tabletops for less experienced riders. The resort offers bike and rack rentals, lessons, guided rides, and camps. Usually, a chairlift takes bikes and riders to the top but shuttle service is offered this summer while new chairlifts are installed for the upcoming ski season.
Beech Mountain draws mountain bikers from across the region every year for the Beech Mountain Enduro Race. Part of the Southeast Triple Crown Series, the non-sanctioned race is more about having a good time than crossing the finish line. Five stages - three at Beech Mountain Resort and two at Emerald Outback - combine the town’s best trails to test the skills of any rider amateur to pro. Race categories include 18 and under, junior, and mens and womens amateur and pro.
More Ways to Get Outdoors
The whole family can enjoy the sweeping Blue Ridge vistas on Beech Mountain Resort’s 18-hole disc golf course. Start at the summit to play your way back down the mountain, sometimes dropping as much as 100 feet on a single hole. With the majority of fairways at a beginner-friendly length of 200 feet or less, it’s a great introduction to the sport that anyone, from kids to grandparents, can enjoy.
Explore the mountains on foot on one of Beech Mountain Parks & Recreation Department’s free guided hikes. You’ll spend 1.5 to three hours on the trail with an experienced guide who brings the landscape to life with tips on plants, animals, and local lore. Hiking pace varies based on participants and there are plenty of options to opt out early and shorten your distance.
Start your day on a zen note with some mountaintop yoga. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, certified yoga instructors lead inspirational strength and stretch sessions as you breath the crisp mountain air and take inspiration from the ridgeline views. Classes are designed for all levels.
Tour the nostalgic Land of Oz, paddle a canoe, take a mountain biking lesson, or watch movies under the stars during Family Fun Month at Beech Mountain Resort. Throughout the month of June, there’s fishing derbies, guided hikes, trout fishing expeditions, free concerts, and street dance parties at town hall.
After Your Ride
A long day on the trails inevitably leads to a local pub and Beech Mountain has plenty of options. Relax with a pint of Emerald Outback IPA, Slopeside Saison, or Singletrack Tripel in Beech Mountain Brewing Company's cozy taproom, or take the ski lift to your mountaintop Adirondack chair at the 5506’ Skybar. Fred’s Mercantile has been the place to pick up anything from hiking gear and clothing to burgers and deli sandwiches for 39 years. Recharge your carbs with Famous Brick Oven’s pizzas, ice cream, and bakery treats or dine at Beech Mountain Grille for burgers, sandwiches, and southern comfort foods like shrimp & grits.