The Emerald Outback @ Beech Mountain is a 7-mile trail park open to the public year round. The trails are maintained by the Town of Beech Mountain and criss-cross the mountaintop.
USA Cycling hosted its 2013 and 2014 collegiate national championships at the Emerald Outback, which is fast becoming one of the premier mountain biking locations in the Southeast. It’s also a great destination for hiking and trail running.
The Emerald Outback is comprised of double track, single track, grassy areas and dirt/gravel roads, ranging from 4,700 to 5,400 feet in elevation, which makes the Outback one of the highest mountain biking trail systems on the East Coast.
Several miles are single track, described as “typical rocky, rooty, East Coast mountain biking single track.”
The main trailhead is located on the right as you enter Beech Mountain, across from the Visitor Center/Town Hall. Riders, hikers and trail runners follow paved roads for the first few minutes, cutting uphill across Beech Mountain Resort’s quiet, green slopes before plunging into pristine woods. A second trailhead, with a small parking area, is located at the end of North Pinnacle Ridge Road.
All trails are well-marked, with green designating beginner routes, blue designating intermediate routes, and black designating advanced trails.
There’s a nice variety to the trail system, alternating between lush forests and open spaces with gorgeous views. While there’s plenty of isolation in the trees, the path doesn’t stray too far from some kind of connecting road or bailout point.
The majority of the trails are rated intermediate to advanced, although there’s also terrain beginners can handle. If you’re looking to get started, bike rentals and guidance are available during summer months at Beech Mountain Resort.
Trails are free and open to the public seven days a week. Riders and hikers must register at the Beech Mountain Visitor Center before proceeding to the trails.
In spring, summer and fall, take advantage of Beech Mountain’s Hiking & Mountain Biking Packages, including two nights lodging, an Emerald Outback trail map, a Beech Mountain town trail map, two day passes to the Buckeye Recreation Center, and a tasting for two at Banner Elk Winery. Packages start at $169.
For more information, including trail maps, visit www.emeraldoutback.com