Tanawha Trail is a hiking trail in Avery County, Watauga County, and Caldwell County, North Carolina. It is within Blue Ridge Parkway. It is 12.2 miles long and begins at 4,244 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 23.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 6,975 feet. Beacon Heights and another parking are near the trailhead. There is also a theatre. Wilson Creek Overlook, Rough Ridge, and other parkings and the Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center information can be seen along the trail. There are also restrooms, a parking, viewpoints, and meadows along the trail.
"The Tanawha Trail—the Cherokee word means “great hawk” or “eagle”—lies along the entire length of the Grandfather Mountain “missing link” portion of the Parkway. The trail reaches all the way to Julian Price Memorial Park campground and is the crowning achievement of the Blue Ridge Parkway trail network. Hikers won’t fail to notice the trail’s intricate stone stairways, rock-paved treadways, and arching wood bridges (lowered here by helicopter), all designed to minimize hiker damage to this scenic environment. The federal government spent almost $750,000 on the 13.5 mile trail." Read more
"Two opportunities—a circuit hike and an out-and-back walk—sample the Tanawha and Mountains-to-Sea Trails in an area noted for outstanding meadow views. The circuit hike to the east patches together an easy sampling of the Tanawha Trail, Boone Fork Trail, and Mountains-to-Sea Trail without requiring you to completely retrace your steps." Read more
"Quite possibly the Parkway’s easiest path to a spectacular view, here the Tanawha Trail traverses the alpine-appearing crest of a leading ridge to Grandfather Mountain. The cliff-lined alpine crest of Rough Ridge offers startling vistas atop a stone face visible to Parkway motorists. From many places on this part of the Tanawha Trail, including boardwalks just 0.3 mile from the Rough Ridge Parking Area, the vista engulfs you. As you’re standing on the boardwalks, Rough Ridge rises to the three loftiest summits of Grandfather Mountain—a rocky, dramatic climax at nearly 6,000 feet. The Wilson Creek drainage drops like an expansive chute past the Linn Cove Viaduct and Parkway, snaking to the south." Read more
"Costly trail and road-building techniques were required to minimize impact when the Blue Ridge Parkway finally crossed the fragile side of Grandfather Mountain. The road opened on September 11, 1987, and, with it, the Tanawha Trail, a crowning achievement of the Blue Ridge Parkway trail network. The hikes described below focus on the grandest vistas from the trail, but hikers can hike the Tanawha end to end, and beyond, as this is now part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Camping is permitted only at designated sites on the Parkway; to make a multiday trip possible, backpackers must camp in Grandfather Mountain State Park and at either Price Park Campground or the Price Park backcountry campsite. (Reservations for either of the latter are required from the campground check-in kiosk at Price Park.)" Read more
"This trail wastes little time impressing as it travels the southeast flank of Grandfather Mountain. In less than two-tenths of a mile from the visitor center, the trail ducks under the viaduct, then climbs a boulder field and passes through a short tunnel created by the boulders. Cross one of several impressive footbridges along this stretch into a forest carpeted by ferns and pungent galax. More boulders, more galax, more rhododendron. More up, more down. At mile 1.4, you’ll encounter a spur trail down to the Wilson Creek Overlook. Continue another mile down the trail and you’ll encounter one of the most gorgeous spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway: the Rough Ridge heath bald, covered with huckleberry, mountain ash, and Catawba rhododendron." Read more
"This is a rugged yet beautiful trail that will make your legs hurt while walking but will deliver a huge payoff—views to make your heart hurt. Take this hike on a clear, sunny day, preferably in fall—the perfect time of year. The Tanawha (Cherokee for “great hawk”) Trail stretches 13.5 miles, paralleling and crisscrossing the Blue Ridge Parkway from Beacon Heights at milepost 305 to the Price Lake Campground at milepost 297. To take in some of the trail’s highlights, unless you are up for a marathon hike, try this 5.4-mile round-trip of the Tanawha from Beacon Heights to the Linn Cove Visitor Center, ending at Wilson Creek and then back." Read more