Hiking North Carolina
by Randy Johnson (Falcon Guides)
© 2016 Randy Johnson/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
The other reviews of this trail are spot on. I have had this one on my list for a few years, it is strenuous but far from boring. I'm thrilled to have finally made the trip and can't wait to share it with friends and family.
One note on the earliest review from 2002 - Grandfather Mountain is now part of the State Park System so there are no trail use fees and parking, at least along Hwy 105, is free!!
The Nuwati trail is really very pretty with a couple of pretty streams to cross with huge boulders and a couple of teensy waterfalls (I'd say the highest is maybe 3 ft, but the streams with all the massive rocks are gorgeous). You'll need to cross the streams walking over rocks (it's not marked here, so you may think it's the end) to get to Storyteller's at the end, and then scramble up the rock for the great view. You should really do this if you can, the view is really pretty. When we were on our way back down the Nuwati towards the Boone Fork trail, we encountered a couple who had just run back in our direction from about 50 yards ahead. They had just come across a large black bear that was sitting on the trail. They hadn't known what to do, so they were basically just waiting it out for the bear to move on. The best thing I can tell anyone who comes across a black bear is to just make a lot of noise, they don't like it and will usually take off. We walked with them, clapping our hands and yelling, which hopefully didn't bother any other people in the area, but it was neccessary at the time. Please be aware that the signs that say "you're in bear country" aren't kidding. They're there. Gorgeous hike, the Nuwati trail.
Fantastic hike! We started at the Boone Fork Parking area on the parkway, took the Tanawha Trail up to Daniel Boone Scout Trail to the peak and returned via Scout Trail to Cragway, and then Nuwati, and Tanawha back to the car.
Tanawha Trail is a nice warm-up. Don’t miss the hiking/camping permits required at the Nuwati trailhead before continuing on to Scout Trail (we did pass a ranger on the way down from the peak that asked if we had a permit.)The scout Trail is strenuous but not too bad, a little boring until you get higher up, but then lots of nice rocks and views. There is one pretty steep rock to climb up just before the viaduct view (we lost the trail for a bit because the white blaze is midway up the rock.) There are 3 ladders and a wire handrail required to reach the peak; I don’t think a dog would be able to do it. While our hike was in May and the high this day was 57F, it felt colder and we saw ice near the top. Calloway Peak is well worth the climb and a great spot for lunch. Cragway Trail was a great surprise! The trail hugs the rocky edge and there are several large rocks to climb out on for photo ops, great views of the peaks, and fancy little rare Alleghany flowers to avoid trampling. Nuwati is a very easy stroll back to the car with little wildflowers and a couple of streams. There is a bridge over some nice little falls right near the parking lot.
We started around 9am and finished around 3pm. This time includes a leisurely lunch and exploring at the top, each viewpoint, and each camping area as well as frequent stops to breathe in nature and snack. Also check out the craft gallery at the Moses H Cone House about 6 miles south of the parking area.
Grandfather Mountain has the most spectacular and challenging trails that I have found east of the Mississippi. Me, my wife and kids hiked the Profile Trail up to MacRae Peak on 8/4, then my wife and I returned without the kids to hike the Profile Trail again. This time we took a left on the ridge line and checked out Callaway Peak. Both peaks atop Grandfather yielded spectacular views! Then we hiked down the Daniel Boone Scout trail which was a very beautiful hike thru old forest. If you look closely, you might spot the plane crash about 20 - 30 yards off the left side of the trail a mile or so below Callaway. Later on down the DB trail, there is a great view of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Viaduct. Then we took the Cragway trail to the Nuwati (very pretty forest and streams) and then finally the Tanawha trail over to Holloway Mountain Road. By this time we were totally spent but had not arranged a ride so hiked another four miles back to the Grandfather Campground where we were staying. This was by far the longest hike we have ever done, at 17 miles, but the contrast in scenery going up one side of Grandfather, across the ridge line, down the other side, and finally thru horse pasture with it's own awesome views of Grandfather make this hike second to none!
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