Mountain Biking in the North Carolina High Country

As its name implies, North Carolina’s High Country offers plenty of opportunities for some fantastic mountain biking. If you’re looking for adventure, visit Beech Mountain, located just outside Banner Elk; Sugar Mountain, which is about 10 miles south of Beech; or Rocky Knob Park, situated just east of Boone.

Beech Mountain

Beech Mountain is eastern America’s highest town, with an elevation of 5,506 feet. It’s not much of a surprise to learn mountain biking trails abound here. Routes vary from short, 1-mile trails all the way up to more than 11 miles, with elevations ranging from 3,800 to 5,000 feet. Beech Mountain also has more than 50 miles of paved bike trails.

Beech Mountain was part of Tour DuPont, America’s premier cycling event, from 1993 to 1996. In addition, Beech Mountain Resort was host to the 2011 and 2012 USA Cycling Mountain Bike Gravity National Championships. It was the first resort in the South to host the event.

At elevations ranging from 4,700 to 5,500 feet, the Emerald Outback at Beech Mountain’s Adventure Trail Park comprises roughly 7 miles of intermediate to advanced trails. It’s also one of the highest adventure trail parks in eastern America. The trail system here includes single-track and double-track trails, gravel logging trails and fire roads as well as 100-mile vistas from many scenic overlooks.

Sugar Mountain

Biking trails meander through the cute village of Sugar Mountain and head up the mountain, looping back to the lodge at Sugar Mountain Resort. To make the most of the biking options at the resort, purchase a lift ticket and take a ride from the base of the mountain to the peak. This bike park offers both beginner and intermediate downhill trail runs, with line options including rollers, small dips, tabletops and more.

In October 2013, Sugar Mountain Resort hosted the National Collegiate Downhill Championships. The expert downhill track started at the summit and finished at the base of Easy Street. Many mountain bike riders consider this downhill course to be one of the most demanding and thrilling on the East Coast.

Rocky Knob Park

Just east of Boone on US 421, Rocky Knob Park has more than 11 miles of adventurous and accessible trails as well as multiple skills areas situated on 185 acres. Nearby outfitter Magic Cycles offers bike rentals to explore this urban mountain bike park.

Visit Outdoor NC for additional tips on how to connect with nature and help preserve the natural beauty of our state, plus helpful information on preparing for a mountain biking trip.

Updated January 3, 2024
About the Author
Jason Frye

Jason Frye

Jason Frye is the author of Moon North Carolina, Moon Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip and Moon Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He lives and writes in Wilmington.

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