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Level: Intermediate
Length: 6 mi (9.7 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +367/ -343 ft
Total: 62 riders

Mountain Biking Emerald Outback

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#126 of 544 mountain bike trails in North Carolina
#2,298 in the world

A great system of trails that puts you on top of the world as you cruise around the very top of Beech Mountain, NC. Originally a system of old hiking trails that were simply open to bikes, the town of Beech Mountain invested significant resources to revamp this trail network to create a unique mountain biking experience - the highest mtb trail system east of the Rockies. The new and improved trail system re-opened on June 6th, 2015. if you haven't visited the trails in a few years, it's certainly worth a return trip.

The lift-accessible downhill trails at the adjacent Beech Mtn Ski Resort are definitely worth checking out as well. Emerald Outback trails are free, but a fee is required for the ski lift trails.

This loop takes you through the best sections of the trail system. Covering Oz Forest Run, Jackalope's Trail, Chamberlain's Loop, Northview, and the Southern Ridge Trail. Jackalope's Trail Southern Ridge are rated difficult, with some steep climbs and descents, sharp turns, and gnarled rooty sections. The rest of the trails are intermediate. Incredible views await - specifically on the Southern Ridge Trail!

First added by Gronckle on Jul 26, 2010. Last updated Apr 30, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: yes
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
Park at the Chamber of Commerce, then take ski loft road up around the corner, going around the gate and continuing up OZ road across the ski slopes.Take a right on Pinnacle Ridge Road, go about 1/4 mile and you will see the trailhead kiosk and parking area on your left.
You can also drive to the actual OZ run Trailhead by taking Beach Mountain Parkway to Pinnacle Ridge Road. Its a twisting route, but the route is clearly marked - Just follow the "Emerald Outback Access" signs to the trailhead
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Emerald Outback Trail map

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Local Info

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shawnmoore1 (on Aug 18, 2019)
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Trail conditions

Wet (on Aug 10, 2018)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Beech Mountain, North Carolina

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Intermediate | 3 mi
Intermediate | 10 mi

Rider questions

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  • dlaido

    There has been a ton of work done on these trails recently. Dirt brought in over some rooty areas. Worth checking out if you haven't ridden here lately.

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  • James Lichty

    There are several characteristics making this trail unique. One is the altitude, which is reported to be the highest MTB trail on the east coast. Another are the views, which are simply breathtaking in places. That said, the trails themselves are prone to roots and rocks, which is good or bad, depending on your perspective. Also, there are parts of the system which appear to be old hiking trails repurposed for MTB. For example, the backside of Southern Ridge features what would be a thrilling decent but for switchbacks every twenty feet. This may be the result of a very rugged surrounding terrain but, either way, added enough layers of technical obstacles so as to be extremely difficult to navigate in places. On the whole, a challenging but rewarding trail system.

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  • calimoore

    This was the best riding I have done in Northwest! Far better than Tsali,NC. There are several trails you can take ranging from beginner to advance. Thank you Beech Mnt and community!

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  • Joe Moser

    Loved this trail! Lot's of elevation change, a definite challenge if you're cardio is not up to par. Bike it in October so temps were good, trail was leaf covered so a little slick. Don't forget that the West Bowl Connector run isn't a loop...what goes down must come back up!

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  • goincoastal

    Rode the trails today with my wife,beautiful trails,especially in the fall. The trails were still a little wet, but the scenery was worth it.

    FYI,do not try to ride the Chamberlain loop, it doesn't look like it is being maintained, and it looks like they are clearing strips of land to build a ski run. About half way in,we lost the trails in the clearing,and had to bushwhack our way back to the trails.

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  • ActuallyBarton

    I rode the trails off the beech mountain ski resort. Two sections - Downhill which opens up at the Emerald road and then after is the slope which is steep but not as steep. They have advanced, intermediate, and beginner on both sections. Lifts are 10$ once and 35$ all day pass. I rented a cheap bike since that was my first time mountain biking. I have experience bmxing so I could handle the trails once I got used to it. I rode the beginner downhill trail called All of My Love, the beginner slope trail Whole Lotta Love and the mix of Intermediate Carter Ridge which is just some small jumps. I also rode the intermediate slope trail Heartbreaker which is really fun. Very technical but opens up to fast open trails with some decent sized jumps. Very fun course but not for novices. I lucked out but I do not recommend first timing here. I have bmx riding experience and I still got some souvenirs. Love this course tho, great for beginners

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  • scubasteven74

    I did a solo ride this past weekend and these trails have a bit of everything. I rode a CW loop, starting at the Summit lot and following the signs for Oz Forest Run. Oz was super root and slippery. Southern Ridge is very steep, technical and challenging, but the views you get from the overlooks are worth the hike-a-bike sections. Chamberlain is currently closed, so take note. When you get to the intersection of Southern Ridge, Chamberlain and Northview you will need to follow Northview. Jackalope has some serious climbing and Wizard's is a good finish. I suspect CCW might be a bit easier, especially on Southern Ridge. The trail tops out at about 5,300', so get your lungs ready. Total loop for me was about 4.5 miles with 575 ft. of climbing. I want to go back on a drier day and ride CCW to get a feel for it that way. If you want to work on technical skills while challenging your cardio, this is the place to do it.

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  • 29r Frank

    Good trail, nice elevation changes and lots of options to ride easy, intermediate and advance trails. Had lots of fun will definitely return.

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  • Gronckle

    Post Grand-Re-Opening Review: The revamped trail system is impressive - rerouted and rebuilt for mountain biking. Excellent signage and navigation. Much smoother -better flow than before, but lots of roots, rocks and challenges remain. The entire stretch is gorgeous - lush forest with multiple rock features and unbeatable views. There are some severely rooty sections and steep climbs on Jackalope's Trail. Southern Ridge is the highlight of the system. Insane views and some crazy-fun tight switchbacks descending though unique rock features. Highly recommended to take that one counter-clockwise. Trails are relatively new and still a bit soft, but should be primed once they get ridden in. If you rode here years ago and didn't think much of it, it's definitely worth a fresh look.

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  • PureMomentum   ✓ supporter

    Great trail system. Has recently been redone with a great new TH. It is a bit rooty, but very rideable. Trails are well marked and easy to navigate. I hit it after a rainy morning so I had to hold back a bit, but under optimal conditions, this trail would be super fast and flowy. I highly recommend it.

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  • Kirbdog

    Not bad. Had some roots tho

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  • matt300

    The roots have gotten much worse since I rode this 18 months ago. I like roots and rocks but this is just not fun unless you are pointed downhill and have enough momentum. The downhill trails on the Beech ski slope are very cool though.

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  • stupidscreename

    Seriously?!? The worst place i have ever ridden. Roots Roots Roots. Like more roots than dirt. It was horrible. I have never seen anything like it before. I am talking about the network of trails around the mountain.

    There are 3 downhill trails that are pretty fun. The blacks are PSYCHO!

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  • Rotkohl

    Lots of roots. Tight. Could use some grading, not very sustainable and has erosion. I rode after some rain, soft and loamy.

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  • EpicCarbon

    So-so trail that in a lot of places was not up to IMBA standards where the turns were too tight and straight uphill without a lot of switchbacks. Has some promise but needs attention and work. I'd rate it 2.5 if given the option

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