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Grandfather Mountain State Park – A North Carolina Icon

Western North Carolina State ParksOver the years, Grandfather Mountain has given the NC mountain communities an iconic identity that is hard to find in another state. The magnificent scenery, rich history, and exceptional biodiversity make it more than a landmark. In 2009, Grandfather Mountain sold part of the backcountry amounting to 2700 acres, to the state for the creation of the state park. Since then, the Division of Parks and Recreations in conjunction with the Stewardship Foundation took charge in preserving the national treasure in the High Country of North Carolina. The Mile High Swinging Bridge is one of the park’s most popular attraction.


Located in the one of the highest elevation mountain towns in NC, the park opens the backcountry to adventurous backpacking and hiking. For the area’s NC mountain communities, the spark is home to some of the most challenging trails owing to the rough terrain and severe weather conditions. If you are hiking enthusiast, you cannot miss the adventure that comes with hiking the following trails available in the park.

The Grandfather Trail: commencing at the attraction, the path spreads across a rocky terrain to the Calloway Peak. Sitting at an estimated elevation of about 5498 feet, the point is considered the highest on the mountain, park, and Blue Ridge Mountain range and perhaps sits above the Piedmont Area below. It cruises through other rugged rock peaks, cool forests and alpine meadows that often need hikers to use ladders to maneuver.

The Profile Trail: The trail runs up from Watauga River to the Peak of the Ridge next to Calloway Peak, forming unique summit route.

Tanawha Trail: ending in the middle of the peak of the mountain, visitors can use segments of the trail to access the state park. The thrilling trail sits parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway and is covered separately.

Others trails running up Calloway from Blue Ridge Parkway include Cragway, Nuwati and Daniel Boone Scout Trails. They provide not only fun but also gorgeous natural features worth exploration.


There are very places in mountain towns in NC, that allow camping. Grandfather Mountain State Park is one of them with 13 backpack camping areas. Camping can only be done in specified areas with a permit required for the group that intends to camp. Fires are allowed on the low sides of the campsites excluding the grandfather Trail or beyond the Hi-Balsam Shelter. Also, campers need to use dead firewood with restrictions applied on wood from out of the park.


Other than the hiking and camping, the North Carolina state park is known for extensive learning opportunities conducted by rangers. Suitable for all ages, the facilitators makes interpretive presentations that need the attendants to pre-register. The annual wildflower walks are free and open to all visitors. The guided walk includes two miles of hike and round trip, where participants take modest climbs.


Patrons can access the backcountry trails from the bridge area as part of the admission fee for the Mountain travel attraction. For the hikers, access to the state park from the Mile High Swinging Bridge is only granted after purchasing a ticket to the site. However, access to the trailheads at the base remains free, but visitors need to register for safety. Except for Christmas holiday and Thanksgiving Day, the park is open every day of the year. Those visiting on vacation and weekends can beat the delays caused by huge crowds at the gate by arriving before 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m.


When it comes to living in Western North Carolina, The Coves Mountain River Club is an exact definition of idyllic living and has NC land for sale near Grandfather Mountain. The vibrant gated community in the foothills sits on a mountaintop and along the Johns River with numerous outdoor amenities. Whether residents choose to spend a leisurely day in the saline infinity-view swimming pool or exploring the 39 miles of hiking trails with waterfalls, there’s plenty to do within the gates.

One of the many big advantages of living in the foothills at The Coves is being close enough to access the state’s top attraction and Blue Ridge Parkway yet live year round at the lower elevations to avoid the harsh winters and snow of the High Country.

NC land for sale at The Coves comes in all sizes, elevations and shapes. Stop by our Welcome Center for a tour of almost 100 homes built already and see the new builder floor plans.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 70 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.

Exploring the area for the first time?

Let us know & ask for our 70 page Complimentary Magazine.

The Coves Mountain River Club magazine