Hiking & Biking
Bike The Route Of Lance Armstrong
Hike or bike the highest town in the Eastern US.
Whether you’re looking for a challenging bike ride, a hike that takes you to peaks of more than 5,400 feet or just an escape from everyday life, Beech Mountain has numerous opportunities to unleash and enjoy the outdoors.
“With wooded nature trails and bike routes that include waterfalls and wild animals, and an average summer temperature of only 72 degrees, the weather is like spring at Beech, even in July and August when it’s much hotter in other areas,” said Peggy Coscia, with the Beech Mountain Chamber of Commerce. “Beech’s trails can be enjoyed in a small or large group and are ideal for university hiking or biking clubs. There are also trails suitable for two for couples interested in taking in the beauty of nature together on a romantic stroll.”
The 10 trails on Beech Mountain range from one to five miles, with elevations from 3,800 to 5,000 feet and ranging from easy to strenuous.
Two thirds of the hiking trails are available for mountain biking, and Beech Mountain has more than 50 miles of paved bike trails, including the route Lance Armstrong used to train for his final Tour De France, which climbs more than 2,300 feet in three miles.
“Beech Mountain was a part of Tour DuPont, America’s premiere cycling event, from 1993 to 1996. Our portion of the tour was often called the most challenging—the make or break’ part of the race,” said FredPfohl, local chairman of the tour during the nineties. “In the years since the Tour DuPont and Lance Armstrong, biking has become more popular, and Beech has jumped to the occasion by designating bike routes on the mountain for all levels.”
The town’s five major bike routes start from the visitor’s center, located near the top of the mountain next to the town hall. While most routes are through residential neighborhoods, others take riders on a journey through nature, such as the route by Buckeye Lake, and each trail offers riders unique aspects that can’t be found elsewhere.
“Bike routes range from short rides to more than 11 miles, and elevations reach more than 5,400 feet. Some even have grades as high as 22 percent in places, which makes them challenging for even the best cyclers,” said Pfohl. “Additionally, the trails offer breathtaking scenery and take visitors to unique locations, such as ‘Oz,’ our very own wonderland.”
For those looking for an educational experience, from April through October, Beech Mountain also offers guided hikes on the first Tuesday of each month. Each hike is led by a volunteer that has the knowledge and expertise to give visitors an insider's look at the mountain. The hikes are designed to showcase the nature and unmatched beauty of Beech Mountain.
“The trails are clearly marked, so even if you aren’t familiar with the area, you can enjoy a hike on your own. All of the trails are also close to town, so you never have to go too far to get a meal or just a snack,” said Coscia. “The elevation provides a challenging terrain, and the scenery and wildlife, which can include white tail deer, wild turkeys, raccoons and red squirrel, is amazing.”
Beech mountain offers a range of accommodations, with discounted lodging available in the spring and fall. Lodges and cabins are available for larger groups, or small group of friends can keep cozy in one of the many hotels and condos there are to choose from. The restaurants on Beech offer a variety of tastes and prices, ranging from subs, sandwiches and pizzas to gourmet dining, and all are original restaurants that can only be found at Beech Mountain.
“After a day of hiking or biking the mountain, Smokey’s Pizzeria, Brick Oven Pizzeria and Pasta, or Fred’s Backside Deli, offer a variety of pizzas, Italian cuisine and sandwiches,” said Coscia. “Each restaurant has its own specialty and personality, which makes every dining experience unique.”
Jackalopes’s View, a gourmet dining experience, opens up patio dining during nice weather to allow diners to enjoy the scenic mountain views while selecting from the chef’s selection of mountain trout or fresh seafood, exotic wild game or angus beef. Jackalope’s also offers an extensive wine list, with more than 300 selections from three cellars to choose from. Students can also end the night at the restaurant’s Vault Bar, a full service bar featuring signature martinis, wine, cocktails or beer, along with pool tables, darts and flat screen TVs.
For more information about hiking Beech Mountain, please visit www.hikebeechmountain.com, or for more information about biking Beech Mountain please visit www.bikebeechmountain.com.
Beech Mountain, the highest town in the eastern United States at 5,506 feet, is nestled in the northwestern North Carolina Mountains, only two hours from Charlotte and Asheville. Known for it's unique beauty and winter sport activities, Beech is a year-round tourist destination offering visitors a variety of outdoor adventures. Throughout the year, the town also embraces a wide range of cultural activities ranging from street dances and Sunday evening sunset concerts.
added: December 23, 2008
updated: December 26, 2008