Want to visit the highest mountain peak this side of the Blue Ridge Parkway? Then, head up to Linville, NC where the three counties of Watauga, Avery, and Caldwell meet at the Grandfather Mountain State Park. This nearly 6,000-foot mountain is infamous for it's spectacular beauty, numerous caves, and sharp cliffs. Grandfather Mountain, the central (and paid) attraction also boasts the highest measured wind speeds at more than 210mph!
February 13, 2017 by Rick Morris
The true curiosity of Grandfather Mountain is the mile-high swinging bridge, which connects two peaks. The bridge, built in the early 1950s by Hugh Morton (NC native, conservationist, and photographer who developed the mountain), sways somewhat during low winds and is pronounced during high winds.
Donald MacRae, Morton's great-grandfather, purchased 16,000 acres including the mountain in the late 19th century from Walter Lenoir. The land passed to his son, Hugh MacRae, who bequeathed 4,000 acres of the mountain to his grandson, Hugh Morton. Morton's plan was to transform Grandfather Mountain into a viewing platform and tourist attraction.
In 1952 Morton made access to Grandfather Mountain easier with road improvements. He also built the swinging bridge, a 228-foot-long bridge at exactly 1 mile in elevation (5,280 feet). Visitors now had one of the best views of the surrounding mountains.
Visitors to the park can also view the animal habitats. Deer, black bear, river otters, mountain lions, and eagles are all kept in the park.
Hugh died in 2006 and the more than 2,600 acres of the lad was sold to the state, and 700 acres were gifted to a stewardship foundation. The foundation is meant to preserve the location as an educational nature park. Calloway Peak, 5,946 feet in elevation and part of the larger tract, became the 34th state park in the North Carolina - Grandfather Mountain State Park in 2009.
Three additional points on the mountain are Linville, Attic Window, and MacRae peaks. Here is a view from Linville Peak...
Grandfather Mountain is the source for the Watauga River and Linville River and several smaller streams, including Little Wilson Creek, Wilson Creek, Upper Boone Fork, and Stack Rock Creek.
A visit to the Grandfather Mountain attraction is worth it, but a bit pricy. Expect to pay $20 for adults and $9 for children. The best way to view the mountain and surrounding vistas is through good ole-fashioned hiking and camping in the state park. Lace up and hit one of 11 hiking trails within this, the "backcountry" part of the park, where Grandfather Mountain camping and hiking are now free. There are 13 permit-holding campsites along the trails. But, go during mid summer or you'll be cold at night since camp fires are not permitted at much of the higher points (due to winds).
The Grandfather trail is an advanced 2.4 miles and follows the ridge between the swinging bridge on Linville Peak and Calloway Peak. You'll visit the park's two other peaks in between. The East Side trail starts at Boone Fork parking area, mile 300 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. And, the West Side, or Profile trail - perhaps the most popular trail because it passes a rock that looks like a human face... the one many people think looks like "grandfather" lying down, but not where the name comes from. Don't forget your Grandfather Mountain Trail Map!
Here is more information about the trails on Grandfather Mountain...
The Grandfather Trail – An upper ridge trail of astonishing variety, with spruce and fir, rock walls and pinnacles, and open spaces with views of mountains in every direction. The route follows the crest of Grandfather Mountain from the Swinging Bridge Parking Area out 2.4 miles to Calloway Peak. It was along this trail two centuries ago that noted French explorer and botanist Andre Michaux broke into song thinking he had arrived at the highest point in North America. Pace is often deliberate. There are chutes where progress is hand-over-hand and some extra steep sections where hikers use cables and ladders. An alternative to taking the ladders up MacRae Peak is to opt for the more sheltered Underwood Trail.
The Underwood Trail – Splitting off the Grandfather Trail near the half-mile marker, the Underwood Trail bypasses ladder climbs on MacRae Peak, rejoining the Grandfather Trail at MacRae Gap, about a mile out. The strenuous trail makes a long, steep, rocky turn around Raven Rock Cliffs by way of one long ladder.
Going out along Grandfather and returning along Underwood makes an excellent loop hike from the Swinging Bridge.
The Profile trail – Beginning as a rolling pathway through seasonal wildflowers, this trail crosses the Watauga River and travels through rhododendron thickets and under a hardwood canopy. Upper sections, beginning around Foscoe View, get steeper, and there are frequent rest stops with benches and turnouts. Before the trail reaches a view of the Grandfather Profile, hundreds of large boulders were rearranged into a rock walkway called “Peregrine’s Flight”. Shanty Spring, at 2.7 miles in, marks the beginning of a strenuous segment that makes the transition out of the hardwoods and into the Canadian fir Zone, climbing 0.3 miles before joining the
Grandfather Trail. It is steep and rocky and calls for some careful footwork. Your reward is the view at the top.
There are two points for accessing East Side trails. Most hikers use the Boone Fork Parking Area at mile 299.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The alternative is the Asutsi Trail which begins across from Serenity Farm on US 221–the only winter access when the Parkway is closed. From Boone Fork or Serenity Farm parking areas, hikers can follow the Tanawha Trail south to the Nuwati and Daniel Boone Scout Trailheads. The Tanawha winds easily along the mountainside parallel to the Parkway. No fee is charged for its use and no camping is allowed on the trail. daniel Boone sCoUt trail– Ascending about 2,000 feet over 3 miles, this hike begins at the Tanawha Trail and climbs to the summit of Calloway Peak (5,946 feet), the highest point on the Blue Ridge Escarpment. About halfway up, at Flat Rock View, hikers reach the junction of Cragway Trail. The
upper half of the Boone Trail is rough going with views of Price Park and the Linn Cove Viaduct. Just before Calloway Peak, in-place ladders and cables help hikers through steep sections.
nUwati Trail – Nu-wa-ti means “medicine” in the Cherokee language and this trail follows an old logging road 1.2 miles. It’s an easy but rocky hike, ending at Storyteller’s Rock and a view of the Boone Bowl, a valley that may have been carved by glaciers. Along the way, there are stream crossings, and a stand of Quaking Aspens.
CraGway Trail– A steep, demanding hike with lovely vistas. Boulders and crags jut out with views of the Boone Fork Bowl. This trail links Nuwati and Boone Trails, and makes a fine loop hike. A hiking option coming down the Boone Trail when returning to cars is to follow Cragway Trail to the Nuwati.
asUtsi Trail– (US Park Service Trail) A-su-tsi means “bridge” in the Cherokee language. This short, easy trail (0.4 miles) links Serenity Farm on US 221 and the Tanawha Trail, providing alternative access to Nuwati and Boone Trails and winter access to the East Side Trails.
Of course, if an RV, resort, or recreational park is your thing, head over to Boone's Grandfather Campground.
Grandfather Mountain hosts the annual Highland Games, a Scottish celebration that's one of the largest in the United States. Through music and games, it honors the history, culture and heritage of the numerous early Scottish settlers. More "clans" gather here than any other Highland Games in America.
The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games occur each year during July at MacRae Meadows on the mountain. The mission is to keep the Scottish culture alive, basically. Included are events such as traditional drumming, athletics, piping, dancing, and music. The Gaelic culture of the games will leave you wanting more.
The 2014 Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain start on Thursday, July 10 with a torch-lighting ceremony, sheep herding, and a picnic. Bring your own food or enjoy the concession stands. There is also a 5-mile run up the mountain, from Linville nearly 1600 feet in elevation to the summit, where an expected 800 runners will attempt "The Bear: Assault on Grandfather". The weekend is rife with dancing competitions, track and field events, fiddling and harping competitions, wrestling, tugs of war, and more sheep herding.
The weather on Grandfather Mountain varies daily. Even though the temperatures remain steady between 60 and 70 degrees F. during the summer, they can fall to 20 or 30 degrees F. overnight in July. Winters are cold and snowy, with temperatures frequently hugging 0 degrees.
There has been some controversy about the 200-mph wind speeds on Grandfather Mountain so measuring devices have been installed. Interestingly, however the automatic weather device for measuring the wind speed was placed near the swinging bridge, nearly 700 feet below the mountain's Calloway Peak. As of January 1, 2013 the measured record gust was 121 mph, recorded on December 21, 2012.
The temperatures average a high of 55 and a low of 41 degrees F. annually. The highest temperature on the mountain in 2012 was 83 degrees on July 1; the coldest was -2 on February 13. The average high was 42 degrees in December with 29 being the low. Expect about 56 inches of rain each year on Grandfather Mountain, with about 10 inches falling in May.
The Grandfather Golf and Country Club is located in Linville NC within the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a privately-owned and operated club that has been recognized by Golf Digest as one of the top 100 greatest courses for 2014, and the second best course in North Carolina according to the state's Golf Panel (second to Pinehurst). The country club was founded by Scottish immigrant Hugh MacRae, owner of Grandfather Mountain. MacRae felt the area reminded him of his homelands in Scotland. The golf course was developed by well-known designer Ellis Maples, under the guidance (and funding) of Agnes, granddaughter to Hugh. Members enjoy 36 holes set within the pristine 300-million-year-old mountains of the Blue Ridge.
Restaurants in Waynesville NC
When it comes to finding good food, there are several quality restaurants, bar and grills, and eateries.
Waynesville NC Hotels
So, you need a place to stay? No worries. Try one of our cozy Bed and Breakfast's, motels, or cabins.
One of the town's most regarded restaurants. If you are looking for good food prices, this is for you.
Head over to Ingles for all your grocery needs. One of about 200 Ingles chain groceries in the area.
Wells Funeral Home
A respected funeral home in Waynesville for more than 100 years.
This is where you go when you are sick, but not enough to warrant a visit to the ER. Two locations in Waynesville.
Where its happening! Walk the cozy sidewalks and take in the shops, street art, and culture.
A community action agency, serving Haywood County since 1965.
Old Stone Inn
This mountain lodge and restaurant is currently for sale (February 11, 2017). Seven buildings. 18 guest rooms. Price: $900k.
The Lodge is a hotel in Waynesville offering complimentary coffee and doughnuts in the lobby. Queen-sized beds, no-smoking in all rooms. All rooms are poolside.
Nothing says living rustic like a night in a 19th century cabin.
Barbers Orchard is a produce market/fruit stand that is open Monday - Sunday from 9am until 6pm.
The Music Box is a DVD and video store in Waynesville, NC.
Here is a selection of dentists in Waynesville.
Shopping is a fun part of any visit to Waynesville NC.
Go Grocery provides surplus grocery products which they purchase from producers at discount.
Time to get that hair done? Here is a small listing of hair salons in Waynesville NC where you can do it.
A Bed and Breakfast in Waynesville, NC.
Situated at about 5,000 feet in elevation on Mt. Pisgah, the Inn offers basic rooms at a reasonable price.
Garrett Funeral Home
Garrett's present building, built in 1968 features a chapel for 250 guests, cushioned seats, a piano...
Take a hike up the famous Cold Mountain, from the movie.
Mast General Store
Quality goods for the living, coffins & caskets for the dead.
A listing of churches in Waynesville, NC.
Visit the historic "Frog Level" district just below the Waynesville courthouse area.
Carolina West Dental
With a staff of about 20 people, 8,000 square feet, and 8 chairs.
Homes for Sale
Buying or selling a home or land in Waynesville area.
Waynesville NC Newspaper
There are a couple newspapers that service Waynesville NC.
The Swag features an award-winning restaurant, awesome accommodations, and world-class hiking trails.
Oak Park Inn
Old-fashioned lodging for visitors to Waynesville, North Carolina. Nice place!
Located just outside of town off Highway 19.
One of the 100 counties in the state of North Carolina, Haywood is located in the western part of the state.
Bed and Breakfast
One of the most enjoyable ways to experience Waynesville NC is by staying at a bed and breakfast.
The Parkway Inn motel offers rooms for smokers or non-smokers, honeymoon suites, and double-wide hot tubs.
Main Street Realty
Main Street Realty has a number of real estate agents/brokers to serve you.
Waynesville NC Map
Here is a large map of Waynesville, NC.
The HART Theater, or Haywood Arts Regional Theatre, is a community theatre showcasing regional talent. Plenty of plays and musicals are performed in the 255-seat James Auditorium.
Population & Elevation
What is the elevation of the town of Waynesville? How about it's population. Here are some basic facts.
Autumn Care in Waynesville opened in 1985 and provides 24-hour nursing care.
Producer of medical products and employer of local people with disabilities and disadvantages.
This is an Italian style restaurant serving authentic Italian or Mediterranean dishes.
The primary hospital serving Waynesville NC and the rest of Haywood County is Haywood Regional Medical Center.
A real estate agency/broker in business since 1974.
A place to buy solid wood furniture in Waynesville, NC.
High Country Furniture
Furniture store in Waynesville NC.
This is an animal rescue location for abused and neglected horses.