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June 15, 2023, 12:52 p.m.

New Trail: Bernard Mountain Trail in Old Fort Officially Opens

Bernard Mountain Trail Map

The Pisgah National Forest has a brand new trail for bikers and hikers to enjoy in Old Fort, N.C. The Bernard Mountain Trail is the latest trail to be completed in an effort to create new outdoor experiences throughout the region. Read the full press release below for details about the trail and a grand opening ceremony.

New Bernard Mountain Trail Opens in Old Fort, NC

The Grandfather Ranger District, in partnership with its community partners, is delighted to announce the grand opening of the newly constructed Bernard Mountain Trail. This trail marks an important milestone in the ongoing 42-mile trail expansion project in the Old Fort area. The collaborative efforts of Camp Grier's G5 Trail Collective, Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation, People on the Move Old Fort, and the U.S. Forest Service Grandfather Ranger District, known as the Catawba Vale Collaborative, have made this trail expansion possible.

Spanning 3.16 miles, the Bernard Mountain Trail descends nearly 1,000 feet from the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, following the rocky ridge parallel to Kitsuma. Designed for intermediate mountain biking and hiking, the trail connects from Bernard Mountain Road, accessible via Mill Creek Road, to the Point Lookout Greenway near the Old Fort Picnic Area. This new trail offers a great new outdoor experience in an area already renowned for its trails. From atop Bernard Mountain, hikers and bikers will enjoy rocky features, all-season views, and lush forests. While classified as intermediate, the trail also features technical sections and advanced alternate lines for mountain bikers. In contrast to the easy-to-intermediate Gateway Trails, Bernard Mountain Trail is narrow singletrack with many rocky sections and steeper grades.

In conjunction with the trail opening, a new parking area accommodating 10-15 cars has been established off Mill Creek Road to provide additional parking for hikers and bikers accessing from Ridgecrest. The distance from the new parking area to the bottom of the Point Lookout Greenway is approximately 4.6-miles. This includes 1.5-miles along the Forest Service gated Bernard Mountain Road. Bikers and runners can loop Bernard Mountain as a downhill trail with the Point Lookout climb for a total route of close to 9- miles. In contrast, hikers may prefer the 2-mile hike up to the Bernard Mountain peak from Point Lookout.

The realization of this trail project has been made possible through the generous funding support of the McDowell County Tourism Development Authority (TDA). Over the past five years, the McDowell County TDA has diligently invested in tourism resources that enhance Old Fort and McDowell County, making them exceptional destinations for visitors and residents alike. The trail construction was executed by the talented builders at Trail Dynamics, who brought the vision of the community to life.