This is one of our favorite routes at Beech Mountain and is featured in Freehub Magazine's Pisgah Photo Book: Issue 6.3. You can mix up any of the different trails to create a perfect route for your desired time frame, but you will have to pedal a little road in between connections.
The Emerald Outback (EMO) is home to some of the highest elevation riding in the east. The trail systems explores the 5000 foot high ridges of Beech Mountain and provides excellent views, thick ferns, rock outcroppings, and wind-stunted trees. Many of the trails were user created in the 90's and have been rebuilt by professional trail builders in recent years. The following description will give you "the best of" riding.
Park at the Emerald Outback Trailhead in the town of Beech Mountain across from the visitor's center. There's a bike wash near the kiosk, maps, and a restroom in the visitors center. Take a map. Begin your ride by crossing the road, passing the sled hill, and pedaling up the Summer Road. Go around a tan gate the cross the ski slopes of Beech Mountain Resort (Open June - September for lift-accessed riding. You must by a pass at the base of the mountain to ride their trails). For the EMO, continue on the Summer Road passing a second gate. Take note of Pinnacle Ridge Road (gravel) to the right. Pass Pinnacle Ridge road and look for an indistinct trail on the right as the paved road curves left. Drop in here and reach a trail junction. Turn left on Oz Forest Run. Climb for a few minutes to the Road Mountain Overlook, then drop the flowy trail full of rock rolls and fun turns. Exit onto a gravel road (Winter Road) and cross at the Oz Forest Run sign. Turn Left on Southern Ridge Trail to another gravel road (Backbone). Climb Backbone for a minute then turn right in an opening to find the Northview Trail on the left. Climb Northview to a junction with Southern Ridge Trail. At this point you can choose to begin returning to your start via Southern Ridge or pursue a longer backcountry adventure. To return to the start, continue on Southern Ridge with it's technical switchbacks and rock walls. Southern Ridge will rejoin Oz Forest Run where you can backtrack or follow the Winter Road to the Summer Road back to your vehicle.
For a longer backcountry style adventure from Northview Trail, take Chamberlins Loop to the West Bowl Connector. The West Bowl Connector drops 400 feet in 1.2 miles and then requires a long climb out via Smoketree Road to Pinnacle Ridge.
Local Trail Association
Trails in Route
Route TypePoint to Point
Bike typeAM, XC
More Stats for Freehub Magazine: Emerald Outback mountain bike route
Altitude change159 ft
Altitude min4,542 ft
Altitude start4,542 ft
Altitude end4,701 ft
Distance climb2.0 miles
Distance down2.0 miles
Distance flat587 ft
Recent Trail Reports Along Route
no previous reports.
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