Explore Ones I Want To Do - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Ones I Want To Do Map
VIEW FULL MAP

Amazing views, difficult trail.

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).

Best hike east of the Mississippi so far!

The out and back is a little over 8 miles due to the relocation of the parking area. The top 1/3 is very steep with large rock steps. Excellent payoff at the peak though.

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!

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!

Great hike, have done this a few times but this was the first time in the wet. Definitely not for children under 12 or so. After mile marker 2.5 it begins to get steep and the trail goes thru some small boulder fields which makes climbing difficult and with rain it can be even more dangerous. Be careful and have fun!

Excellent workout. I've done this up and back in one day. The ladders with high winds are a bit unnerving, hold onto your hat and camera. Always worth every step.

This one has it all....great views, length, technical elements. Be prepared to spend several hours doing the hike if you're going to Calloway's peak and back. It joins the Grandfather Trail in time to get some of the best elements - the chute, the ledge and the alpine meadow...not to mention the peak. If it's been raining, the lower couple of miles gets pretty slippery due to the clay. The steps added to the new section (trailhead to where it joins the old trailhead) help with traction. Fantastic hike!!

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!

hiking
1 month ago

This is an excellent trail. My girlfriend and I, along with our two pups had a GREAT experience on this one. we hiked in and set up camp in the primitive sites provided (without a permit) we weren't aware that a permit was required so definitely look into, I know we will next time. The other reviews are spot on, tons of creek crossings, beautiful views and only one other group camping. definitely recommended if you are in the area!

hiking
1 month ago

This was one of the most gorgeous hikes I've ever done. The growth is so lush and green and Basin Creek provides so main beautiful scenes. It's funny, the cabin is almost anticlimactic after the hike :-)

Tough but doable for 2 65 year olds with bad knees. We intended to only do first couple of miles, but pushed on to top which really wasn’t too bad. Hike down was rougher, lots of slippery rocks etc. A better plan is to go to both Calloway and then swinging bridge area and have someone pick you up there!

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!

Free access parking off 105, restroom facilities, plenty of parking.

Trail is moderate in the beginning, strenuous the rest of the way after mile 2.5 or so. Watauga view and Foscoe view well worth the climb! Elevation gain over 700 meters within the 4 miles to Calloway peak! This one's a monster! I'd say, no small kids or small dogs, and probably good idea to avoid when trail is wet, especially going back downhill. Some trail-running possible, however, lots of roots and boulders in the latter part of the climb. Made it up and down in about 3 hours; some trail-running, but mostly trail-jogging, and even trail-crawling at spots. =)

If you like Chutes & Ladders and a little boulder hopping this is your kinda hike. Amazing vistas and a great cardio workout. It’s my fav❗️

Truly difficult but so worth it. The views were amazing and the cardio workout even better! Wear those hiking boots, for sure!!!

one of my favorite, favorite hiking trails. this trail is moderate, but that depends on what type of shape your in. there a lot of stepping up (onto rocks), and also stairs to climb up. i did not make it to peak because i have a slight fear of heights but you get an awesome view non stop. it really is one of the most rewarding hikes i have been on yet! just a bit scary at the very peak.

Amazing hike, we hiked it on a rainy day but it was still a great time. I highly recommend for everyone!

We did this trail and absolutely loved it. My kids 10& 12 rocked it but there are places that are a little scary. During the first mile, there is a picturesque area with big rocks and and a mountain stream to take pictures and play in the water. As you wind your way up, it gets harder and becomes very steep. We climbed through rocky, dense tree areas and then reached the peak by climbing up man-made ladders onto boulders. Several trails merge so it was a bit crowded at the top. Beautiful views! One of our favorite family hikes!

A great workout with 2,460 elevation gain! Not many good views with the leaves on the trees, but still a nice hike. The park ranger At Brinegar Cabin shared that the trail has been used for 140 years as a way for people to get from the Long Bottom Community to Sparta. There are very cool retainer walls all along the trail. A do again when the leaves are down.

Some steps, some switchbacks but generally a moderate climb. The parking lot leads down a winding trail for over a mile, so the return was a bit tougher than usual out and back climbs. Pack a jacket for the gusty stuff up top.

Very well-maintained and challenging trail. We (three 50+ year-old ladies) hiked GFM Trail yesterday; started at the parking lot for the swinging bridge, climbed to McCraes Peak, then on the advice of other hikers took Underwood Trail back to GFM Trail to return to our car. We are regular exercisers who are training for a Grand Canyon hike in October, and only hike occasionally. Although challenging mentally and physically (we climbed 10 ladders total, I believe, and relied on cables to pull ourselves along a few slippery spots), we had good hiking shoes with good tread (essential), plenty of water and comfortable backpacks. Conditions were very wet yesterday and a thunderstorm was predicted in the afternoon. We had intended to climb to Calloway Peak but decided to shorten our hike due to the storm. The trail took much longer than we expected, since rocks were slippery. Took us 4 hours. We will be back to accomplish this one in better conditions! Be prepared to pay $20 per person (ouch!) to enter the park on the side where the swinging bridge is, otherwise do the Profile trail to park for free (a longer hike). I think there were 7 or 8 ladders going up the way we did, but only 2 going down since we used Underwood Trail to return. Best hike yet and amazing views!

Diverse and beautiful hike with a glorious view at the summit. Took us 5.5 hours up and back. Not a trail for those with balance or knee issues- parts of the trail flooded very quickly in the rain, and wooden steps and rock scrambles became very slippery - but would happily do it again!

I only spent 3 months living in North Carolina, but as a native westerner, I was impressed at the natural terrain I found in this part of the Appalachians. Grandfather mountain comes close, in a few ways , to the foothill type peaks I have around my home in North Idaho, but with even more lush and green scenery surrounding it. Being very developed, the trail head is easy to find, and the main challenges are steepness of the ascent and (certain times of year) slippery rocks and exposed roots. This is not a trail area for out of shape people, but with proper pacing, it can be done. Prepare for some scrambling in sections, but a benefit is that there are many potential view points once you get up top. In September, when I visited, it was misty and moist, but not cold, which made for some great hiking weather, but less than ideal under foot conditions. Heartily reccomend this trail.

Wow! My husband and I hiked this trail today. We knew it would be good but we didn’t know it would be as beautiful as it was! It’s hard and takes time but it’s so worth it!! Wear good hiking shoes and bring water.

2 months ago

very very hard high scary but worth the views

Load More