Town of Banner Elk, North Carolina

    Biking and Hiking

    Press Release


    November 29, 2016
    Nina Mastandrea, content manager
    828-898-8729 (office)


    Lees-McRae named a Silver Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists


    BANNER ELK, N.C. — Today, the League of American Bicyclists recognized Lees-McRae with a Silver Bicycle Friendly University (BFUSM) award, joining more than 150 visionary colleges and universities from across the country.

    With the announcement of 51 new and renewing BFUs today from 25 states, Lees-McRae joins a cutting-edge group of colleges and universities across the United States transforming their campuses and the communities around them. There are now 164 BFUs in 44 states and Washington, D.C.

    Lees-McRae joins alongside Duke University to become the only two private colleges in North Carolina with a distinction from the League of American Bicyclists. In total, only eight colleges in North Carolina—both private and public—have received an award from the League.

    “In its fifth year, we’ve seen the Bicycle Friendly University program’s momentum continue to grow and reach even more campuses across the country,” said Programs Director Bill Nesper. “We applaud this round of BFUs for raising the standard and being innovative in making bicycling a safe, convenient and enjoyable option for students, staff and visitors alike.”

    Moving forward, Lees-McRae will have access to a variety of free tools and technical assistance from the League to become even more bicycle-friendly.

    “We are delighted to be designated a Bicycle Friendly College,” said Lees-McRae President Barry Buxton. “We are passionate about cycling and believe in the value of the bicycling experience.”

    In addition to ten national team cycling championships and countless individual championships, Lees-McRae offers a unique Cycling Studies Minor in the School of Business and Management.

    School of Business and Management Adjunct Instructor, Ted Silver, who also oversees the majority of the Cycling Studies Minor, said the award not only reflects Lees-McRae’s commitment to both the minor and the team, “but also our effort to increase awareness, cycling safety education and advocacy.”

    Lees-McRae Head Cycling Coach, Tim Hall, said the award validates the pursuit to provide a more enriching experience at the college, “and what it will mean for our community moving forward.”

    “At Lees-McRae, bicycling will always run in our veins and be a critical part of our institutional culture,” Buxton said.

    To apply or learn more about the free BFU program, visit the League online at



    Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Lees-McRae College is a private, four-year college offering diverse baccalaureate degrees, strong athletic programs and outstanding faculty. Field-specific career preparation and hands-on learning enhance the broad core curriculum. For more information, please visit or call 828.898.5241.

    Biking in and Around Banner Elk, NC

    Mountain biking is fast becoming one of the most popular activities in the High Country. There are several bike races and biking events that are held in the area. If you are visiting us in the spring, summer or fall, check out a biking race or event that is scheduled during your stay.

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    There are several trails to ride in and around Banner Elk:

    Beech Mountain

    Beech Mountain has 51 miles of biking routes. Lance Armstrong covered many, if not all, of them during his road to recovery. There are climbs of 1,400 feet in only 3-1/2 miles, offering challenging rides for even the most advanced cyclists as well as scenic routes for those who just want to cruise and enjoy the scenery. In May, Beech Mountain holds the BEEST WEEKEND Cycling Time Trial where you can actually do the ride that inspired Lance Armstrong. Beech Mountain invites you to participate in this inaugural event of fun for the entire family.

    Scheduled guided group rides are on the third Saturday of the month, May through October. The rides are led by Beech Mountain's own Gil Adams, Daniel Scagnelli and Rory Ellington. Rides will leave from the Beech Mountain Visitors Center, next to the Town Hall, at 10:30 a.m. and will return to the start at end of the ride. A Bike Beech Mountain Guide is available by calling the Chamber of Commerce at 828-387-9238.  For more information and routes of each ride, call the Beech Mountain Recreation Center at 828-387-3003.

    Also, the Beech Mountain Bike Club has developed 11 rugged trails with over 40 miles of adventure for your riding enjoyment. Their club members and sponsors are devoted to developing and keeping their trails maintained for the use of all mountain bikers.

    Sugar Mountain

    There are biking trails that interweave throughout the Village of Sugar Mountain. Trail access is free from May through October during daylight hours. Trail maps are located in a black marked mailbox at the base of the Flying Mile slope. Trails are constantly being maintained so please be cautious. Also keep in mind that weather and other variables can change the condition of any trail. While riding a bike within the Village limits, helmets are required. Sugar Mountain Resort provides a lift service to mountain bikers. You can bring your bike and ride the lift up and practice your downhill skills. The Showdown at Sugar Mountain is a NORBA National Championship Event that showcases both professionals and also has some amateur events. This event is usually very big with participants coming from all 50 states, and usually takes place sometime in May.

    Hiking in and Around Banner Elk

    For summer fun, enjoy the mild weather as you hike your way through the North Carolina mountains and explore the numerous hiking trails around Banner ELk, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Grandfather Mountain. Experience the incredible autumn views, spring wildflowers, and the peaceful retreats typical of the mountains of North Carolina. Day trips abound, from guided fly fishing tours, to white water rafting excursions for the more adventuresome.

    Banner Elk is at the center of all this and more, with spectacular North Carolina mountain scenery everywhere you look! We will show you in this site our beautiful piece of the earth, traveling to the quaint and unique villages that surround Banner Elk. Blue Ridge mountain rentals and retreats at Valle Crucis, Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain and more! Catch a trout in Foscoe, and discover the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountain range – the majestic Grandfather Mountain.

    Biking and Hiking Committee

    First Thursday Night

    The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meets on the first Thursday of each month at 4pm at the Town Hall.

    Here are some important links regarding bicycling in The High Country:

    Rail to Trail Conversancy 
    League of American Bicyclist
    North Carolina DOT Bicycle 
    Magic Cycles
    Boone Bike and Touring
    Weekly Rides