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Grandfather Mountain-Mileposts 299.9-305.1 Professional Review and Guide
"Grandfather Mountain’s public image has evolved over the years. Once almost exclusively seen as a tourist attraction, Grandfather has become synonymous with its spectacular backcountry. The Mile-High Swinging Bridge is still a popular attraction reached by car, but there have been plenty of changes since owner Hugh Morton passed away in 2006. Morton’s heirs sold the backcountry as a North Carolina state park in 2009, and tourist development transitioned to a nonprofit stewardship foundation. The mountain’s now publicly owned highest peaks are laced with a wonderful network of trails that tower over the attraction. The once-ignored backcountry hiking network experienced a renaissance in the late 1970s, when a fee-based hiking program reclaimed deteriorating trails that had been closed after a hiker died of hypothermia. Over the years, the pay-for-use trail system became an innovative example of wilderness management, and hiking grew as a part of the Grandfather Mountain experience."
--Randy Johnson, Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway (Falcon Guides).
Note that we went in late March. Though the temperature was mild, is was WINDY. We first did the touristy thing and crossed the Mile-high bridge (in gusts of 50 mph), but we really came for the hiking. We started on the well-marked Grandfather trail on the north side of the parking area. The first part was pretty easy going, and luckily sheltered from the wind. At the junction with the Underwood Trail, we decided to bear left and take the 'protected' route. This trail is mainly in the woods and involves a pretty strenous climb up a set of stone steps...some natural and some engineered. At the top of the climb in the only ladder on this trail, not too intimidating. At MacRae Gap, we kept right and climbed up to MacRae Peak. The actual peak involves a ladder climb onto the actual summit rock...an adventure in the high winds. But the 360 view was worth it. We headed back to the parking area on Gradfather trail, rather than back-tracking on Underwood. If it's windy, you'll feel the full force on this 'unprotected' route, much following the rocky ridgeline on the way down. For the faint-at-heart the series of ladders down is a bit intimidating, but once down it's fairly easy back to the start. If we'd known the details of the ladders, we'd probably do this loop counter-clockwise. All in all, it's a great little hike. Make sure you grab a trail map at the entrance.
you will definitely pay a lot for this one, but there is a zoo at the top, and great views!
My wife and I hiked 17 miles over Grandfather Mountain. This is some of the best hiking in N.C. and possibly the East Coast. Hiked up the Profile Trail and then along the ridge line to MacRae Peak and Callaway Peak. Then took the Daniel Boone Scout Trail down to the Blue Ridge Parkway. From there we hiked the Tanawha Trail over to Holloway Mountain Road. Absolutely beautiful!
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