Grandfather Mountain Trail is a 3.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Linville, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and birding and is best used from April until November.

DISTANCE
3.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,528 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

cave

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

scramble

snow

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. 20$ per person to access trail via park

13 days ago

Was apprehensive but the most fun and rewRding trail. Beautiful views. Very technical. Must be comfortable with heights and climbing ladders

hiking
18 days ago

This trail is so much fun. We didn't investigate it before taking it on with our 4 kids. Probably would not have taken them on this until they were older. Dangerous for younger kids. I definitely recommend it for older kids and active adults. Exhilarating.

hiking
22 days ago

Absolutely amazing. Some parts are hard especially if caught in the rain. But well worth the view.

scenic driving
24 days ago

My favorite trail in the mountains!

hiking
28 days ago

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.

1 month ago

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!

1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

Fun, beautiful and moderately challenging trail. Highly suggest this one! Add a little length and go to Calloway Peak! One of my favorites.

1 month ago

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.

2 months ago

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!

2 months ago

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).

2 months ago

Best hike east of the Mississippi so far!

hiking
2 months ago

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
2 months ago

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!

2 months ago

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!

3 months ago

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!

3 months ago

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!

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❗️

hiking
3 months ago

Tooooo many people!!! Trails in the park are super cute and easy tho if you’re looking for that, or have children

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

hiking
3 months ago

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.

hiking
3 months ago

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

4 months ago

amazing

hiking
4 months ago

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!

hiking
4 months ago

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.

hiking
4 months ago

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.

4 months ago

very very hard high scary but worth the views

Load More