Hiking is a popular activity in the Emerald Outback
Hiking is a popular activity in the Emerald Outback

The Emerald Outback at Beech Mountain is a year-round destination for hikers, trail runners and mountain bikers.

At 5,400 feet high in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, the Emerald Outback has more than eight miles of gorgeous and challenging trails. The system includes mostly single-track and double-track trails, interspersed with a few grassy roads and a gravel fire road.

The setting atop Beech Mountain is unlike that of any other trail park in the Southeast.

Wind-swept gnarly Beech trees, lush undergrowth and small streams form an emerald forest that inspired creation of the Land of Oz theme park, which operated nearby from 1970-80.

And, did we mention 50-mile vistas from scenic overlooks?

The Emerald Outback was built by the Town of Beech Mountain. It's free and open to the public seven days a week, with a trail head in the center of this resort town and a second trail head beside the Summit Lot parking area.

From June through September, lift access to the Emerald Outback is available Friday through Sunday (for a fee) via the chairlift at Beech Mountain Resort. The resort's lift includes trays to carry mountain bikes to the summit, with riders following closely behind in a traditional lift chair. Hikers are welcome to ride the lift as well.

In late fall, winter and early spring, the best way to access the Emerald Outback is by driving to the Summit Lot via North Pinnacle Ridge Road. This avoids crossing the ski slopes!

Weekend hike-and-wine and bike-and-brew packages are available for just $169 total, plus tax, for two people. More info is available by clicking here

The scenic beauty of Beech Mountain
The scenic beauty of Beech Mountain
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