Grandfather Mountain Trail

HARD 178 reviews
#2 of 123 trails in

Grandfather Mountain Trail is a 3.9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Linville, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
3.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1722 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

scenic driving

cave

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

One of the most technical mountain hikes without climbing equipment east of the Mississippi, Grandfather Mountain trail traverses forest, exposed cliffs, rock outcroppings, ladders and attached cables to spectacular views. The trail climbs to McRae Peak, Attic's Window and the end of the trail at the top of Grandfather Calloway Peak at 5964' - the same point the Profile Trail ends. The Grandfather Trail runs the length of the summit ridge from the Grandfather Mountain attraction to Calloway Peak. It offers astonishing variety, running in and out of wind-dwarfed spruce and fir, across or around rock walls and pinnacles and into open spaces with mountain views in every direction. It was along this trail two centuries ago that explorer/botanist Andre Michaux broke into song thinking he had arrived at the high point of North America. The pace is often slow. There are chutes where progress is hand-over-hand and extra steep sections where hikers use in-place cables and ladders. An alternative to taking the ladders up MacRae Peak is to opt for the more sheltered Underwood Trail. Not recommended for children or inexperienced hikers.

hiking
5 minutes ago

8 hours ago

Wow!!! This trail blew us away. Definitely one of the scariest, coolest, most strenuous trails we've ever done! The ladders and views are just spectacular.

hiking
8 hours ago

This trail was flat-out fantastic. Went with two families, including kids ranging from 8-12. Our youngest had a tough time, but she made it. One of the best hiking days we have ever had. Worth the $20 per adult. You can get there for free on the profile trail if you have a longer hike in mind.

hiking
1 day ago

Pros:

Easy parking and access through grandfather state park
Good portion of the hike is very scenic/great views
Ropes/ladders make for a fun and interesting hike
Great work out, challenging sections.
Option to take underwood trail back for different view/avoiding going down ladders backwards.

Cons:
Not suitable for dogs or small children
Not suitable for anyone with issues with climbing or upper body mobility issues
20$ per person to access trail via park, which is the quickest/shortest distance to access most of the scenic overlooks.

-Ensure you bring enough water and snacks for the hike
-You need to be back by a certain time to car if parking in the park.
-there are bathrooms and snacks available at the gift shop near the swinging bridge
-if accessing the grandfather trail, you must use the grandfather extension trail. The park enforces a the upper portion of the parking area for visitors to the mile high swinging bridge and gift shop.

hiking
3 days ago

Hiked to the Grandfather Trail to Calloway Peak and it was amazing! Every last bit of it. I would definitely agree that this is a difficult and advanced hike- bring plenty of water and wear good shoes/boots. It took longer to get to the peak because I stopped and took pictures but coming down was a little quicker. It took about 5 hours from beginning to end and worth every minute. I heard a trail guide say that Thursday's are consistently the 'slow' day and I would definitely agree- I saw maybe 10 people out of the entire hike which was really nice as it is a single line type of trial.

I took the 'back' option on the way down so I could avoid the ladders and cables but I would not consider it easier than the regular Grandfather Trail. Sites are not as good on this route but it was still nice to see something different and the other side of the mountain.

I would highly recommend NOT bringing a dog with you on the route I went. When I made it to Calloway some people had brought their dog from the other side (up Daniel Boone) and it was a bit easier but they could not go any farther than Calloway because of the ladders and especially the rock faces.

Overall, do it. If you like hiking and love a challenge then this is for you. I hiked a bit of the Himalayas and would put this at the same level of difficulty and breathtaking. It is beautiful and you'll be so glad you did it!

hiking
5 days ago

Our group of 4 (ages 23-24) did from the swinging bridge up to Calloway Peak and down Underwood Trail to get back.
Gorgeous views that are well worth the aches! Would go back in a heart beat :) just be prepared for the climbs and have good shoes (I wear chacos on all my hikes and are super use to them.. but I still had some good ole blisters from this trail). As a person who doesn't even get on ladders, I was a bit worried about how I'd manage the ladders here. I think the excitement just overran the fear- but it's definitely doable. When you climb those puppies and reach those peaks, you feel so accomplished. Speaking of "puppies", I wouldn't particularly recommended bringing the dogs- strictly bc of the ladders and rock areas to climb and some of the crevasses in certain areas.
To get in the park it's $20 per person but worth it. They have a gift shop and 'restaurant' from what I gathered. Annnnd I'd recommended Underwood Trail to go back to the parking lot from the peaks. It'll save you from going down the ladders backwards and down some really steep areas but it has plenty of really rocky areas that you kinda just lose sight of the trail.
Sounds iffy and kinda scary but do it. It's so worth it, the pictures don't do it justice :) get there early and have too much fun!

backpacking
8 days ago

The views are amazing!! Go all the way up!!

hiking
9 days ago

hiking
11 days ago

hiking
18 days ago

Really great, difficult trails. Beautiful views. Can get tough descending if it rains and rocks get slick. Plenty of challenge. Bring boots with good ankle support and good traction.

hiking
18 days ago

22 days ago

Very rocky, but a great trail. My german shepherd navigated the rocks without any problems, although she wasn't able to climb the ladders near the peak. Make sure you go early if you're going over the weekend, traffic gets very congested.

hiking
22 days ago

hiking
22 days ago

26 days ago

Hiked from the bridge trail to Calloway Peak today with my daughter. It was definitely challenging for us as inexperienced hikers but it was an absolute blast. You can look at pictures but they in no way compare to the views you get in this hike.

hiking
26 days ago

Absolutely stunning views! Very challenging hike if you aren't a regular hiker. My 13 yr old son and I hiked up the Daniel Boone Scout Trail to the top of Calloway's peak, then to the visitor's center at Grandfather. The Grandfather Trail is very challenging, but a lot of fun, with a wide variety of scenery, terrain and observation points. Don't be fooled by the Underwood Trail. Yes, it avoids the ladders up to the top of MacRae, but the pounding on the knees is rough. I would rate Daniel Boone as moderate to strenuous- coming from the Tanawha trail it is a constant uphill over roots and rocks, but not nearly as intense as Grandfather. I thought coming from the other side of MacRae's peak we would avoid ladders, except for one on the Underwood Trail. Boy was I wrong. around a dozen different ladders, ranging from 4 rungs to 14. Some very scenic areas are wonderful, but not for the faint of heart. several places there are bare rock faces to crawl up or down, with nothing but a scenic view off to the side.

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

1 month ago

Beautiful views. Difficult at times, but breathtaking scenery all around.

hiking
1 month ago