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Life and Religion

Get high in Beech Mountain
A summer oasis of family fun and adventure
 
Published Tuesday, June 24, 2014 6:30 am
by Michaela L. Duckett

Beech Mountain's popular Emerald Outback Trail consists of an eight-mile network of gorgeous, flowing single-track trails. PHOTO/KRISTIAN JACKSON/www.beechmtn.com

At an altitude of 5,506 feet about sea level, Beech Mountain boasts being the highest incorporated town east of the Rockies.

A bustling ski resort in winter, this mile-high town comes to life during the summer as an oasis of relaxation and family fun. Beech Mountain is a great destination to unplug, unwind, reconnect with loved ones and get all the rest and relaxation you crave.

What to do:

With temperatures that rarely exceed 75 degrees (It’s only hit above 79 degrees 11 times in the last 23 years), Beech Mountain is the ideal location for an outdoor adventure.

The area offers over 30 miles of designated hiking, biking and running trails for all levels of expertise from the easy one-mile, gentle grade Sassafras Trail to the more strenuous 2.5-mile West Bowl Loop Trail, which has an elevation change of 424 feet and ventures through Chestnut Falls.

Another popular route is The Emerald Outback Trail, made up by eight miles of gorgeous, flowing single-track trails. It’s open from dawn to dusk and offers a wealth of unique terrain, obstacles and a gravel/logging road.

Rather spend some time on the water? Visit the Buckeye Recreation Center for an afternoon of canoeing, non-motorized boating or fishing.

Open seven days a week, Buckeye also offers picnic shelters, fitness classes, indoor tennis courts, a kid’s playroom, rope and log playground and other amenities.

Where to eat: 

Start the day with breakfast at Fred’s Backside Deli, where the eggs are served to order and locals can’t seem to get enough of the freshly-baked buttermilk biscuit sandwiches. 

The panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from deck at 5506' are breathtaking. (PHOTO/WWW.BEECHMTN.COM)

Enjoy the morning breeze while dining on the deli’s garden patio, which overlooks a small pond and wooded setting area where flowers and wildlife abound.

Afterwards, head upstairs to Fred’s General Mercantile, which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. Here, you’ll find everything from fun souvenirs, to gardening accessories, clothes, food, collectibles and so much more. Owner Fred Pfohl’s motto is “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” And from the looks of the merchandise, he may be right.

Enjoy lunch at Famous Fast Eddie’s BBQ and Grill. Order the signature Chicago-style hot dog topped with yellow mustard, green relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, sport peppers and celery salt, or try the brisket sandwich with a side of onion rings. Kids love the cool hot dog statue and adults like the high gravity beer.

Before the sun goes down, be sure to take in the panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the deck of 5506’ - the Beech Mountain Resort’s new sky bar named for its altitude. Step off the chairlift and into a cozy, glass roundhouse, where you can enjoy food, drinks and snacks in comfort. 

Stop by Valle De Bravo Mexican Grill for hearty portions of authentic Mexican cuisine. In addition to house specials - like the Valle De Bravo fajitas, which come with beef, chicken, pork, shrimp and chorizo cooked with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes - the restaurant also offers a great selection of domestic and Mexican beer and some of the best margaritas in town!

On Saturday nights, the patio at Famous Brick Oven Pizza is the place to eat drink and play. The restaurant hosts a free movie night and screens family-friendly flicks outdoors beneath the stars. Play a few rounds of miniature golf on the 18-hole course or check out the arcade and billiards room inside.

In addition to its famous brick oven pizzas, the popular eatery also serves wings, jumbo calzones, pastas and other specialty dishes. Satiate your sweet tooth at the dessert counter with homemade chocolate, cakes, milkshakes and other treats.

The pizzeria stays open late and features a full bar, plenty of televisions, a dance floor and a cooler chocked full with over 150 varieties of bottled beers and craft brews from around the world.

Where to stay:

Whether you are planning an intimate getaway for two or need a comfortable spot for extended family, Beech Mountain offers a unique and eclectic range of lodging options to meet your needs.

From spacious vacation rentals to quaint inns, romantic chalets, mountain cabins and private homes there is something for every situation and every budget. Log on to www.beechmtn.com or call the Beech Mountain Visitors Center at (800) 468-5506 for more information about lodging options. Inquire about discounts, including the three-nights-for-the-price-of-two special during June, Family Fun Month.

Getting there:

Beech Mountain is about a 2.5-hour drive from Charlotte. Take I-77 North to US 421 North or get on US 321 from I-85 South for a more scenic route. Because GPS can be unreliable deep in the North Carolina mountains and will likely get you lost, be sure to map out and print directions to and from each location you plan to visit.

This weekend:

June is Family Fun Month in Beech Mountain. There is something special happening each day through June 30. Receive discounts on accommodations and area attractions. For more information, visit www.beechmtn.com.

Friday, take a scenic chair lift ride to the top of Emerald Mountain and tour The Land of Oz, where you can view Fountain of Youth, the Judy Garland Overlook Gazebo, and the Oz mini-museum. After touring Dorothy’s house, follow Dorothy and friends as they ease on down the Yellow Brick Road to have their wishes granted by the wizard.

Typically only open during the fall when long lines often result in visitors being turned away, the property is open every Friday in June with at least two tours starting at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Visit www.emeraldmtn.com or call  (800) 468-5506 for more details.

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