Calloway Peak via Profile Trail

HARD 458 reviews

Calloway Peak via Profile Trail is a 7.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Banner Elk, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,385 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

cave

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

"West Side" of Grandfather Mountain, the Profile Trail starts at the trailhead on Route 105 in Banner Elk, NC, and climbs almost 2000 feet to connect to the Grandfather Trail. Permits available at trail head and Mast General Store, Footsloggers and 105/184 Exxon (free). Beginning from Hwy 105 as a scenic, rolling pathway through seasonal wildflowers, this trail crosses the Watauga River and travels under a hardwood canopy for much of its length. Upper sections, beginning around Foscoe View, get steeper. There are frequent rest stops with stone benches and turnouts. The trail gets a bit muddy when wet. Shanty Spring, at 2.7 miles, marks a transition into a strenuous pathway of tumble-down rock that joins the Grandfather Trail after a climb of 0.3 miles. It makes the transition out of the hardwoods and into the Canadian fir zone of the crest area. The upper section is steep and rocky and calls for careful footwork. At the top of the Profile Trail, you reach the Grandfather trail, which you take 0.4 miles further to the left to reach the highest point, Calloway Peak at 5946 feet. On the way you'll pass by beautiful Watauga View, and then climb three short ladders to reach the peak. The way down can be tough on the knees and the roots and rocks can be very slippery when wet, so take your time. This is an awesome hike on one of the most rugged mountains east of the Mississippi, and hiking conditions with the rocks and roots are more tedious than most trails out west.

hiking
8 days ago

Great hike. Very tough closer to Calloway Gap. If you’re going to this hike before spring, do it early in the morning before the afternoon thaw.

hiking
muddy
rocky
12 days ago

Really enjoyed this trail. It is muddy from the freeze and thaw. You can avoid a lot of the mud if you hike while the ground is frozen. When it warms up in the afternoon it turns to mud. This trail isn’t difficult but you should be in pretty good shape. Definitely strenuous. The views at the top are amazing and worth all the effort.

hiking
muddy
washed out
14 days ago

This trail is not well kept at all. Unless you want to be covered in mud and constantly fight to keep from slipping definitely do not go after heavy rainfall. You can also hear the traffic from 105 for the first 2 miles. Was honestly disappointed in the hike.

hiking
18 days ago

Went in February. 50 degree day in Boone but the trail was iced over just past Profile View where I turned back. First third was really muddy. Really enjoyed it, and will be back this summer to make it to Grandfather trail and Calloway Peak.

hiking
muddy
18 days ago

camping
muddy
rocky
snow
21 days ago

hiking
rocky
22 days ago

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike! It was muddy, icy, and had snow so prepare accordingly. We didn’t quite make it to the end due to time restraints. I definitely want to go back to get to Calloway peak!

2 months ago

This was an incredible hike!! With the new (super nice) parking area, this trail is now over 8 miles. All the water crossing were high, We made it to Shanty Springs in knee deep snow and had to turn around due to trail conditions. Super slippery at the top. Can’t wait to go back when the snow has melted and finish up the last .4 miles!

2 months ago

This trail is one of my favorite trails in N.C. It has beautiful water features in the first section of the trail and stunning views from the top but do not expect this hike to be easy because it is a burner, especially towards the top. I have two dogs that I’m glad stayed at home for this one since it is, in some sections, very technical as there are ladders and exposed rock faces where a slip or loss of balance could result in injury to you or your dogs. Also, I would caution anyone who is hiking this in winter weather to be prepared with the right equipment.
I hiked to Calloway Peak and then went over to Raven Rocks before heading back down. Spend some time at the top because the views are awesome. All in all I hiked a little over 10 miles in about 5.5 hours according to the AllTrails app.

hiking
3 months ago

I proposed to my Fiancée at the top. She said yes.

hiking
4 months ago

This was my first hiking experience with backpack and friends. Excellent experience. Trail was well marked and maintained. A little muddy at times.Could be challenging if you are not in good physical condition. Plenty of places to rest and enjoy nature. Great half day hike. We stopped at Profile View due to time restraints. 2.hrs up and 1.5hrs back. Did this for my 60th birthday. Will return to go to Calloway Peak.

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing views, difficult trail.

backpacking
4 months ago

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.

hiking
5 months ago

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!

5 months ago

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.

hiking
5 months ago

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!!

5 months ago

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!

hiking
5 months ago

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. =)

6 months ago

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!

6 months ago

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.

hiking
6 months ago

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!

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike with classic Appalachian beauty: big rhododendrons, views of rolling blue-green hills, ferns, a lovely creek, and large flat boulders at the top. The trail was nice in most places, with patches of slippery rocks and roots. I was visiting NC from my home in WA state and this was a great "bang-for-your-buck" hike to experience this area.

Based on other reviews I thought it would be more difficult. Although it wasn't exactly easy, I made it to the top in 2 hours, but maybe it's because I'm fortunate to be able to hike hilly trails a couple of days a week at home. When I got to the top there were patches of clouds blowing in and out, so there were only partial views, but it was still worth it to hike through the lovely green forest. All in all, maybe not for the out-of-shape or new hiker, but if you are an avid hiker, it's not too bad. :)

hiking
7 months ago

Very rocky. Not suitable for dogs. It was cloudy/foggy but had some amazing areas/overlook places. Overall a very amazing trail!

hiking
7 months ago

Easily the best trail in all of NC! From the great parking area, the first 1/4 of the trail descended along the creek through rhododendrons and creek beds. The next 1/2 is almost all switchbacks and stairs with a few opportunities for some bouldering, but is absolutely beautiful! The last 1/4 is an endurance marathon where you climb across rock formations, twisted roots, and take 3 ladders up to the top of Calloway Peak made very slippery on a rainy day! All in all....8.4 miles travelled in the rain but cannot wait to do this trail again soon!

7 months ago

Amazing climb, my personal favorite to date. A wide variety of terrain, rock formations, and even begins next to a picturesque brook. Great rock scrambles. Difficulty level is accurate, not for beginning hikers but you also don't need to be a serious, super skilled hiker either.

hiking
7 months ago

Fun trail! Power hiked it with my 14 year old son. Took us about 3.5 hours for the 7.5 miles with a couple rests. It is pretty technical especially after the fresh spring. Will do again next time we are in the area.

7 months ago

Hubby and I hiked this in August, 2017. It is a tough trail, but so worth it!!
It took us around 5.5-6 hours, round trip, including a 30 minute lunch break at the top. I have back and hip issues, so that probably increased our time a bit, but I loved it!!

7 months ago

Tough hike with great sense of accomplishment!

7 months ago

Greatest trail I have yet hiked. Just do it.

Load More