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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

Beech Mountain may be small but it offers loads of winter fun

Updated: Jan 12

Beech Mountain, N.C., offers a wide range of winter sports, including 17 ski runs, snowboarding and ice skating at its popular Beech Mountain Resort. 

beech mountain north carolina

My poor little four-cylinder Kia huffed and puffed scaling the steep 1,400 feet to reach Beech Mountain in western North Carolina. Of course, she survived the switchback journey and what a treat awaited me at the top! Beech Mountain is only a few miles of mountain town but what it offers is cozy accommodations, a nice variety of dining options, sweet shopping sites and the highest ski area on the East Coast.


I've visited in both winter and summer and can extol the virtues of both. In fact, I highly recommend you do the same. But Beech really comes alive this time of year with visitors filling up cabins, lodges and condos throughout the town, then hitting the slopes of Beech Mountain Resort. North Carolina receives snowfall from November through spring but can fill ski runs with manmade snow when necessary, allowing ski resorts to operate full-time throughout the season.


Beech Mountain Resort offers three beginning runs, seven intermediate, and four for the thrill-seekers, with two runs of freestyle terrain. In addition to skiing from a base elevation of 4,675 feet to a peak of 5,506 feet (that's more than a mile high!), the resort includes snowboarding, ice skating and tubing.


Dining options for hungry athletes are available at the base and on the top and Beech Mountain Brewing Co. serves up its wide variety of craft brews on-site.


For those who need to learn how to ski, Beech Mountain’s ski school includes both private and group lessons for a variety of ages.

beech mountain north carolina
Credit: Beech Mountain

A Six-mile Town

Private residences, vacation rentals and two small hotels make up the six square miles of Beech Mountain, less than a five-hour drive from Atlanta. Some accommodations, such as The White Wolf Lodge, rent skiing equipment and serve up yummy barbecue dishes at its Holy Smokes BBQ. We checked into a multi-level, three-story condo with Beech Mountain Rentals and wanted for not a thing. Our balcony offered a lovely view of the Blue Ridge Mountains so we kicked up our feet after a long day of fun.


For the kids, the town maintains a sledding hill, the only municipal sledding hill in the southeast. Visitors 12 years old and younger may bring their own sledding apparatus, purchase a plastic disc popular at most stores — and usually costing $5 — or rent a sled for $5 a day from the town’s Buckeye Recreation Center.


Speaking of Buckeye, this 23,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art recreation center in Beech Mountain offers both indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities, a weight room for adults and an indoor playroom for kids. Visitors can enjoy a pickleball game, fitness class or just choose a book and relax.


There are two lakes close to Beech Mountain, perfect for trout fishing until the winter season ends. Canoes may be rented free of charge, as well as snowshoes, at the Buckeye Center. The lakes freeze in winter but not thick or consistent enough for winter sports. (Again, come back in summer and kayak the lake or camp out in the nearby campsites.)


beech mountain nc
Credit: Sam Dean

Hikers may prefer the hundreds of miles of hiking trails located throughout the area, popular all year long but in February offering a breath-taking winter snow experience. Easy strolls through in-town woods trails lead to waterfalls and scenic vistas. For the ultimate challenge, visitors can take a multi-mile hike through 1,000 feet of elevation change, with views of wildlife, waterfalls, picturesque lakes, and panoramas showcasing the breathtaking beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina. A popular trek is The Emerald Outback, which is located near the very top of the mountain and features nearly seven miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and trail running.


For dining options, a fun place to enjoy drinks, snacks and a spectacular view is the Skybar at the top of Beech Mountain. Visitors can test out Beech Mountain Brewing Company’s products but also take a tour of the brewery located at the base of the slopes. Enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine at Mi Jalisco Mexican Grille or for something more casual, the Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria doubles as an arcade with miniature golf and outdoor fire pits. It's a big hit with families. 


Be sure and stop in at Fred's General Merchantile, a general store that has it all. Fred's slogan has always been, "If we don't have it, you don't need it." In addition to carrying everything from spirits and food, hardware, birding supplies, local artwork and crafts and clothing, to name only a few items, Fred's serves up a mean breakfast and lunch in the back room. It's where the locals hang out so be sure and join them for a hot breakfast before hitting the slopes. You'll have fun watching the birds enjoy Fred's seed buffet in the backyard.


Events

Beech Mountain Resort offers special events that happen year-round but weekly events during the winter months. Look for men's and women's nights, karaoke, races, a student's night and a winter music series, among others.


So visit Beech Mountain for the vast winter sports, but don't forget to return to this lovely mountain oasis in summer. Hint: It's a lot quieter in summer so both seasons offer unique visitor experiences.


For information about Beech Mountain Resort and its winter events and activities, visit www.beechmountainresort.com. For a list of accommodations, dining options, and more, visit Beechmtn.com.

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