QUICK TRAIL FACTS
- Preserve Size: 47,000 acres
- Trail Mileage: ~6.6 miles in network
- Pets: yes
- Difficulty: easy to challenging
- Sights: Views of Echo Lake
Like all the mountains in the national park, you’ll have many paths to choose from when planning your ascent up 841-foot Beech Mountain.
Away from the summit, I think the best views in this trail system are off the 0.3-mile Beech Cliff Loop Trail, which is easily accessible off the parking area at the end of Beech Hill road. Definitely make sure you include this little loop in your visit to this mountain no matter where you start, though. It’s not too difficult, although there is some mild scrambling over rocks.
The next prettiest spot for views is at the top of the steep but short 0.5-mile Beech Cliff Trail, which leaves from the north end of Echo Lake parking lot. This trail has rungs and ladders, so isn’t open to dogs. If you want to hike up to the ridge and avoid those iron ladders, take Canada Cliffs Trail, which is longer — 1 mile — but is less rugged. It leaves from the south end of Echo Lake parking lot. Be prepared for stone steps on both trails.
Though it doesn’t have views, the interior Valley Trail passes through a nice, cool forest. The first 0.2-mile stretch, at its north end, is packed gravel and wheelchair-accessible, I think.
A bonus from leaving from Echo Lake is you can swim at the end of your sweaty hike!
But here’s a loop I enjoyed, leaving from Long Pond rather than Echo Lake: Beginning at the trailhead on Long Pond (which you can’t swim in), take the 1-mile Beech West Ridge Trail to the summit. You’ll find it at the far end of the parking area right by the lake. The trail begins by hugging the shore of Long Pond on a flat, easy path, before beginning to ascend right around where you walk by a couple of lakeside cabins. The climb is fairly tough but short, with views. At 0.9 miles, you’ll get to an intersection. Take a right here and walk the final 0.1 mile to the fire tower and open summit. From here, take the Beech Mountain Loop Trail in either direction (although the eastern leg is steeper and has fewer views than the western leg) to the parking area. Cross the lot and continue on the Beech Cliff Loop Trail for fabulous views. Hike back along the ridge on the Canada Cliffs trail before cutting in and finishing up on the shady and cool Valley Trail.
Directions: There are three main trailheads for Beech Mountain. The smallest is at Long Pond, at the end of Long Pond Road. The largest lot is at Echo Lake Beach (this is large due to the popularity of this great swimming spot), and a fairly large one at the end of Beech Hill Road.