Profile Trail to Calloway Peak

HARD 300 reviews
#4 of 135 trails in

Profile Trail to Calloway Peak is a 7.6 mile moderately 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, walking, camping, and nature trips and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
7.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2385 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

cave

forest

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

old growth

rocky

scramble

"West Side" of Grandfather Mountain, the Profile trail starts at trail head 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.

3 days ago

I love this trail. I have done it a few times in the past but never in the winter. I did a quick up and back on Jan 14. The trail was icy and the temps cold but the views were amazing and well worth the effort. I highly recommend trekking poles for this trail and they're necessity when it's slick!

14 days ago

Steep and challenging. About as hard as a hike can get in terms of gaining elevation quickly. Wouldn’t expect to finish this one in under 4 hours. Can easily take 5-6 hours if conditions are less than ideal. Make sure you have an entire day to spend. Would not recommend during the winter as it can get icy.

hiking
23 days ago

Absolutely my favorite hike so far! A physical hike with one of the best views I’ve ever seen at the top! We did this hike at the end of December so the summit was brutally cold. Prepare yourself for that so you can enjoy it longer.

backpacking
1 month ago

Departed on the trail around 5am and took about four hours to get to the top (because of a snow storm). The entire trail was a winter wonderland while I hiked it. Brutally cold but so rewarding. The view is well worth the strenuous hike. The last .4 miles is extremely strenuous, especially in the winter.

hiking
1 month ago

A pretty strenuous trail if you're carrying a pack, but the view at the peak is great. This trail is wonderful because it has so many different elements to it. It is pretty consistently steep throughout, particularly at the end. Great trek though

hiking
1 month ago

The view at the top is the reward for a hard hike.

hiking
1 month ago

Good hike. Enough features like streams and rocks and overlooks to keep it interesting. Pretty muddy for the first half mile or so today, maybe due to the snow.

2 months ago

Had my 18lb pack on. Tough w pack but views definitely worth the climb

hiking
2 months ago

Strenuous, technical, rocky and steep hike, bring some food and water, shaded most of the way and you are immersed in the forest until you get to the summit- there are a couple of small viewing platforms at the top. Beautiful quartz to see along the way- brand new, clean trailhead bathrooms and parking area. Get your miles in!!

hiking
3 months ago

Took just under 5 hours round trip from new parking lot to peak, including a stop at peak to rest and grab a snack. Great trail, but very rocky/steep near top. Bottom 1-1.5 miles is pretty easy. Great hike, not too challenging, but left us pretty sore the next day!!

hiking
3 months ago

Tough hike (about 3 hours each way) but well worth it. Went first week of October and the colors were amazing

backpacking
3 months ago

Been going here for over 15 years now - one of my favorites! If you have the right gear you can really have a great time!

hiking
3 months ago

After reading other reviews I would only add there are restrooms at trailhead now. I recall this taking me about 3 hours up and about 2.5 back but my right knee was hurting bad due to a difficult hike the day before. Going up didn't mind so much the last mile or so up boulders and rock piles because it was not as boring as a simple dirt incline. It made it interesting but not easy. Nice view at top and water source about a mile before top. Would have given this one more star but I didn't think view was as good as some I have seen. Wouldn't want to do this when crowded during summer because would be annoying going up. Also glad it was cooler.
Good fall hike. Wouldn't suggest it during summer. Glad I did hike because was rewarding due to feeling of accomplishment. I usually prefer the reward of a large waterfall so I wouldn't hike this again just for the accomplishment feat.

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely beautiful. They need to update that the entrance has changed and you no longer need a permit. Across from the peddlin’ pig is the entrance, and you simply fill out a from there. You definitely should be in shape for this hike. A bit of the trail is gradual, and then a bit takes some serious leg power to get up large rocks and steep inclines. The view at Calloway Peak is worth it though. When you finally reach Calloway Gap you can go right to the Alpine Meadow and the ‘shoots’ or left to Calloway Peak. From there be prepared for more uphill. Coming back down was harder because of the steep climb down. I recommend trekking poles.

hiking
3 months ago

On 9/23/2017 my wife and I hiked this trail. Overall it is a great trail with some amazing views. Total time (with lunch at the top) was about 5.5-6hrs.

Initially I thought we'd knock this out in about 3-4hrs (based on other strenuous 8mi hikes we've done) however, the trail disappears around the 3mi point, and you're having to navigate rocks and boulders where it starts getting steep. So, it's slow going through this part compared to the rest of the trail.

The mile posts are a bit deceiving. At the 1.5mi post, our GPS was showing at least 2 miles. So don't get discouraged when you see these.
This is a great hike and with the fall coming, this would be a prime one to do for the fall colors (there were areas already showing color). - Enjoy!

4 months ago

Such a rewarding hike!

hiking
4 months ago

New trail entryway adds 0.5 mile to the front end...and on the way back most of the last half mile are climbing stairs which is exhausting. If you have most of the day, the trail is awesome to explore! We left at 3pm and turned around at Profile View due to daylight concerns (all of the trail is wooded and dark). Total round trip was 5.5 miles and took us 3 hours with us moving at a good pace. Can't wait to go back and tackle Calloway Peak.

4 months ago

its for me a 4.5 Stars, easy at the beggining but gets harder as it goes. coming down is very rough on knees. views are amazing

trail running
4 months ago

Technical trail, its actually 8 miles from the new profile trail. Pretty muddy and wet with a lot of people. Calloway peak is the second peak. You have to use ladders. It's crowded up there. Ascent is steep at the top.

hiking
4 months ago

My wife and I did the hike earlier today and we basically had the trail to ourselves. There were a couple of people on the peak but that was it. It turned out to be a 7.7 mile out and back from the new parking area. Good hike with the upper 3rd wet and rocky so it was slower going than I had expected. I had done the Nuwati/Cragway/DanielBooneScout Trail route last week so I needed to do this one for comparison since some people said the Profile was easier. The Profile Trail is a mile longer and much steeper and rockier and took about 1 3/4 hrs longer to do. This was a good hike but a little tougher than the other route.

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