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I've hiked this trail twice now and it's probably my favorite on the east coast. It's definitely not for the inexperienced or out of shape, but the grueling path is more than worth it. The MacRae Peak path features stunning view after stunning view. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to take them all in and enjoy the fantastic vistas in all directions. The ladder climbs and rock scrambles can be nerve-racking but are a lot of fun at the same time. I took the Underwood Trail on the way back down which is a bit less strenuous and having gravity on your side makes the going a bit easier. It's easy to see pictures and hear from others about the sights along the way, but one thing you have to experience firsthand is the smells on the trail. You're hiking in a mostly alpine environment and the conifers give a refreshing piney scent for almost the whole way; it's like walking through a christmas tree farm.

hiking
3 days ago

Fun trail... beautiful views especially with the fall leaves. Lots of dogs which i loves. I didn’t like the loud music some patrons were playing...I believe there should be a rule about that. It disrupted our hike.

A very nice trail that can be completed in a couple of hours. 2/3rds of the way up it does get a bit strenuous while the descent is more gradual. Could do the trail counterclockwise to reverse that. The view of the mountains and lake is well worth the climb. Very clean and well maintained trail.

It was late afternoon by the time we reached Rocktop trail from the Sparrow Springs parking lot. Fallen leaves can make for unsure footing on the rocks but it wasn’t a difficult trail. We enjoyed the expansive views and spiny rock formations along the spine of the mountain.

I wouldn’t take young children on Rocktop trail due to steep drop-offs.

Rocktop trail meets a gravel road that leads up to Rocktop Tower. You have to trace the righthand side of the tower to reach Crowders Mountain Trail. From the summit you descend stair steps then follow a manicured, shady trail to return Sparrow Springs parking lot.

An exciting hike! We went in November and the path was so icy we almost turned around a few times. The views were worth it! We took grandfather trail up and Underwood back down, made for a great loop!

hiking
4 days ago

A very steep incline. Must watch your step! This was a great workout. Will definitely be back!

hiking
11 days ago

Did this hike early on a cool Sunday morning with my parents. They are in their 60’s and we needed to take breaks for knees and lungs :) The trail is beautiful. Steep at points. But the pay off with the views are spectacular. The leaves were changing colors — magnificent!

absolutely beautiful trail. overnight tent camping at the top. make sure you wear good hiking shoes or boots the trail can get slippery. HIKE THIS TRAIL you won't regret it.

Hands down the most fun trail I have ever hiked! Extremely strenuous, so be careful. My only problem is I hate that you have to pay so much to get to the main trailhead. You can access it from the parkway, but it becomes a pretty long day hike.

Lots of fun. Very well marked and the ladders are a blast. The view from the top of McRae is fabulous. We went up the Grandfather trail and back down Underwood. Underwood is much more in the woods and bit more rocky/rooty. You get much better vistas from Grandfather trail, though it was fun doing both of them. The trail past McRae peak is a less travelled, as many seem to turn around at McCrae.

This was nice strenuous hike up to a mesmerizing view. Completely worth the effort to see. Stunning views.

This is my favorite trail. It is a bit treacherous, especially for an old guy like me. I don’t go on it after heavy rain as it is slippery and mistakes could be costly. But it is beautiful and dramatic and fun.

Amazing hike! Best yet in north Carolina. Lots of ladders and hard uphills. I’m not sure going all the way to callaway peak was worth it if your in it for the views, the first peak was beautiful and stayed beautiful to the callaway peak but didn’t change. About 4-4.5 hours out and back. 40$ to get into the park for 2 people.

I’m from Louisiana where we don’t have anything higher than an interstate overpass. This was an awesome experience. And if you are a first timer I would label this as “hard” the last portion is very steep and it’s almost as difficult on the way down trying to keep your brakes on. But as everyone says well worth it. Awesome view. Bring a snack sit down and enjoy. I will be returning this following weekend for great exercise.

We went on a Saturday in early Oct. and got to the park right as it opened at 8am. Parked in the lot just below the very top lot and hiked the short hike up to the swinging bridge. Then walked across the top lot to the start of the grandfather mt trail. We started the hike at 9am, made it to Calloway peak by 11:30, spent 20min at the top for lunch and then got back to our parking lot via black rock trail by 1:45pm. Round trip was about 5hrs and that is with us stopping for views and really taking our sweet time. We hiked about 5.5miles. My advice. Keep right on the underwood trail? On the way up to do the cables and ladders (which weren’t as scary as I was expecting) and then keep right at the same split on the way back for the easier descent. Calloway peak actually wasn’t as impressive as macrae peak was, so if you wanted a shorter trip just go to macrae. But all in all the $20 was worth it and this is one of the best and most fun hikes I have done. 5stars! If I can do it anyone can, just take your time on ascents and descents, but honestly they weren’t too bad. Oh, and start early!

Truly the best trail I’ve hiked in the entire Blue Ridge area. The hike did take a lot longer, because of all the heavy traffic, but it thinned out the higher we hiked. The trails had more views than I would have thought possible(due to all of the edges of the cliffs that the path etched through).

I didn’t find it as hard as it sounds. The view from the top was astounding!

this trail is one of my favorites for a short hike with my labrador...we both get great cardio benefits and i love the ease of traveling the dry trails. I'm a seasoned, 65 year old female hiker with most of my hikes being in the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of NH. Always see deer and in the fall, it can have some pretty color.

Best hike east of the Mississippi so far!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike with some verticals so you are getting a nice workout! Once you get up keep going to the right and enjoy a awesome almost 360 lookout that many people miss, you do have to scramble to get there but worth it!

Lots of deep mud! A soggy & slippery scramble. Thunderclaps as I was coming down luckily avoided rain. Overcast with clouds surrounding mountain and wind gusts. Enjoyed it!

hiking
1 month ago

It was really worth it. I’m pretty inexperienced and it was definitely hard but the views were well worth it! Just don’t stop where the signs say the trail ends. There is a short climb to the top and it is absolutely breath taking!

Awesome, awesome hike!! Although the mileage seems low, it is a very strenuous and technical hike. There are lots of ladders, cables, and big rocks that you have to climb up and over using your hands and feet (these were all reasons why I loved this hike, but maybe it's not for everyone!). The grandfather trail is an awesome mix of woods and walking along exposed rock faces which makes for a very dynamic hike and incredible views along the way! When I went (mid-late Sept) the leaves were just starting to change, but I bet in a few weeks (mid October) the colors will be amazing up there. Good hiking shoes with good traction are absolutely necessary - many spots of the trail were very wet/muddy when I hiked it yesterday (partly due to the hurricane, but regardless...) the steep/smooth rock faces can be very dangerous when wet, so the more traction the better. I saw a few people slip pretty bad wearing sneakers. I am a 23 year old in good shape, and a pretty experienced hiker. I hiked all the way to Calloway Peak (stopped for a bit to enjoy the amazing views at McRae peak on my way) and completed the full thing in 4 hours (this included a couple snack/water breaks and picture taking). The men at the gift shop said the hike to Calloway and back is usually completed in 5 hr for the average hiker (3 hr if just going to McRae and back). The $20 entree fee is of course a bummer, but in my opinion very worth it and they do a great job maintaining the trail (the ladders/cables are in great shape). If you are hiking on a weekend (I was there on a Saturday morning) be sure to get there early before they open (9 am) so join the line of cars that will already be forming. The parking lot all the way at the top that you will park at is right below the mile-high swinging bridge, so be sure to check that out once you finish your hike!

One of my fav hikes in North Carolina. Have done it several times and several different routes. From Profile Trail to paying at entrance. Either way, worth the time and the money. I just remind myself that the money goes towards maintaining Grandfather Mountain! So I have no problem paying the fee!

Favorite Hike in NC so far! Did it early September and it was nice and cool, a little rain which helped cool us off also! Did the profile trail to the grandfather which added some mileage but didn't have to pay, and then hitchhiked back to the profile trailhead from grandfather mountain!

Really fun trail. Take a picnic and enjoy the views from the overlook while you have lunch. I started at the visitors center about 4:00 on a Sunday, not too crowded. I do recommend adequate shoes. I didn’t think it would be bad and wore a pair of sneakers. Wish I would have worn my hiking shoes. GPS had my hike at 4.75 round trip. Great hike!

easy but rewarding; great views from the top of the Pinnacle

hiking
2 months ago

So, I couldn't say I captured Crowders at sunset unless I also got it at the Pinnacle Summit.

Recently moved to eastern Tennessee and wanted to do a fun local day hike. This was such a good choice! Initially I was a bit disheartened at the 45 minute queue just to get into the park (it was Labor Day weekend so I wasn’t surprised) and the $40 we had to spend to gain entry, however I would still highly recommend this hike! It was definitely worth the wait and the price. The hike itself wasn’t really that difficult. You do have to be fairly fit to make it to the summit, but with the assistance of cables and ladders it was quite doable. The trail is well marked and maintained. It definitely gets your heart pumping, but at no point did I fear for my life. The first summit has a beautiful 360 view, great photo ops. A fellow hiker told us the second peak wasn’t much different but we continued on anyway. I’m glad we did because the views are even more breathtaking and the photo ops there are bomb. There are rock climbing elements all the way up and lots of fun ledges to dangle your feet off of if you’re brave enough!

hiking
2 months ago

First 3/4 of the trail a nice uphill climb that includes a small boulder field that is fun change of pace. Once you reach the split for Ridgeline trail the real work begins. The top of the trail offers some great views of the surrounds area. Even found a spot at the top to string up my hammock and take a short break before starting back. Would definitely do this one again. I went on Labor Day weekend and the place was packed.

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