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Beech Mountain Trails

Beech Mountain, in Watauga and Avery County, is the highest incorporated town in the eastern US.  Nestled on top of the mountain of the same name, the town is primarily known as a ski resort.  The town also has a network of trails that available for recreation year round, including natural surface trails and gravel roads totaling more than 28 miles.  Ranging from easy to strenuous, the various trails wind throughout the community along creeks, past waterfalls and to scenic overlooks.  Dogs are permitted on all the trails except for those in the Emerald Outback.  Several trails are open to mountain biking and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Directions:

Beech Mountain is located west of Boone in the northwest corner of North Carolina.  From Boone, follow NC-105 south for 13 miles and turn right on NC-184.  Go 4.2 miles, turn left and then right to stay on NC-184.  NC-184 continues up to and ends in Beech Mountain.  The roads in Beech Mountain are rather confusing and its recommended to pick up a map at the visitor center.

Map:

Trails:

There are 28 miles of trails throughout Beech Mountain.

Falls Trail:

Length: 1 mile
Blaze: Red
Difficulty: Moderate

Falls Trail is a 1-mile loop trail that starts and ends at the Buckeye Recreation Center.  From just beyond the playground, the trail descends via switchbacks towards Grassy Gap Creek near the confluence with Buckeye Creek.  Buckeye Creek Falls, a nice 20-foot waterfall, is just upstream of the confluence.  A wooden footbridge provide passage across the creek and then the trail follows Buckeye Creek upstream passing some scenic cascades.  The trail then comes to below the dam on Buckeye Lake and leads past a fence to the lower parking area at Buckeye Recreation Center to finish the loop.

Grassy Gap Creek Trail:

Length: 2 miles
Blaze: Pink
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Grassy Gap Trail is a 2-mile trail that leads from Pine Ridge Road near the Buckeye Recreation Center to Hawthorne, following its namesake upstream.  The lower trailhead is along Pine Ridge Road just northeast of the Buckeye Recreation Center.  The trail crosses Sassafras Road/Trail in about a half-mile and then Raccoon Road shortly after.  At the next gravel road, the trail turns right and follows the road, with Red Fox/Arrowhead joining in a little ways.  In another quarter-mile, the trail split, with Grassy Gap Trail going back to a trail.  This is as far as I've hiked along the trail.

Lower Pond Creek Trail:

Length: 0.6 miles
Blaze: Purple
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Lower Pond Creek Trail leads from Lake Coffey to Locust Ridge Road, following Pond Creek downstream.  The trail is rocky and rugged and more challenging than other trails in Beech Mountain.  Pond Creek is almost continuous cascades and small drops along this section.  She Falls Falls is located about half way down the trail.

Overlook Trail:

Length: 0.4 miles
Blaze: Yellow
Difficulty: Moderate

Overlook Trail is one of the newest trails in Beech Mountain.  The trail leads from the Parkway Overlook down to Perry Park on Tamarack Road.  The overlook provides nice views of the surrounding countryside and there is a small waterfall at Perry Park.

Red Fox/Arrowhead Trail:

Length: 1.5 miles
Blaze: Red
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Red Fox/Arrowhead Trail follows gravel roads, beginning at Red Fox Lane along Pinnacle Ridge Road.  In under a half-mile, Grassy Gap Creek Trail joins and the two run together for a quarter mile and then split, with this trail going right and following Arrowhead Road back out to Pinnacle Ridge Road.

Smoketree Trail:

Length: 1.8 miles
Blaze: Red
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Smoketree Trail follows gravel roads beginning at Woodland Road along Pinnacle Ridge Road.  The trail descends to Bear Branch then heads up.  After the second switchback, the trail follows Mill Pond Road for a short ways then bearing left, it follows Smoketree Road.  Where the trail crosses Buckeye Creek, Upper Buckeye Creek Falls is immediately upstream.  The trail continues on, ending at Beech Mountain Parkway.

Waterfalls:

Buckeye Creek Falls:

Buckeye Creek Falls is a 20-foot waterfall on its namesake, below Buckeye Lake.  The waterfall can be accessed from the Falls Trail, starting from the Buckeye Recreation Center.  The trail is a loop so you can go either way.  Going counterclockwise, the trail starts from behind the playground and descends to Grassy Gap Creek just before the confluence with Buckeye Creek.  Buckeye Creek Falls is immediately upstream of the confluence.  The trail continues across a footbridge over the creek.

Buckeye Creek Upper Falls:

Upper Buckeye Creek Falls is an 8-foot waterfall on the upper reaches of Buckeye Creek.  Since it's so high up, best to visit in times of high water.  The waterfall is immediately upstream of where Smoketree Trail crosses Buckeye Creek.

Perry Park Waterfall:

Perry Park Waterfall is a small roadside waterfall on Pond Creek at Perry Park.  The park is off Tamarack Drive, just a quarter-mile from Beech Mountain Parkway.

She Falls Falls:

She Falls Falls is a 20-foot waterfall on Pond Creek.  The waterfall can be accessed from Lower Pond Creek Trail, starting from Lake Coffey.  It was named after a woman fell off the waterfall and had to be rescued.  She only broke her leg; I think she's quite lucky to have survived.

Wildlife:

Hemlock Varnish Shelf (Ganoderma tsugae) is a polypore mushroom that typically grows on hemlock trees.

Blog Entries:

External Links:

Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation website: http://beechrecreation.org/