We spent a month hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway which connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. We had amazing hikes but one that was very special was actually different from any I’ve hiked. I had never heard of a privately owned mountain but Grandfather Mountain in Linville, North Carolina is privately owned.
It is also the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountain area at almost 6,000 feet. Grandfather Mountain with 12 miles of trails isn’t just for hiking; however, it is a tourist attraction and a nature preserve.
As a privately owned mountain you will have to pay to hike! One ticket includes the Mile High Swinging Bridge which I’ll talk about in a moment. There are other exhibits that are great for children. You’ll find picnic tables and guided tours as well as a restaurant and gift shop.
The hours for various activities are different so I’ll point you to the website for hours and phone number. The fees are $14.00 for adults; $12.00 if you are over 60; $6.00 for children 4 to 12 and under 4 go in free. We thought $14.00 was a lot to hike but it’s really a very special place and I recommend Grandfather Mountain. If you have AAA you’ll save a couple of dollars.
We got to Grandfather Mountain at 9:00a.m. It was really cool and windy. We went into the very nice Visitor Center where I was told that it is always windy at Grandfather Mountain and it gets windier and cooler as you get higher so I really recommend layers of clothes. In fact the average summer temperature is only 68 degrees.
We parked in the lot and headed to what looked like the main trail. There were many caution signs saying that Grandfather Mountain is dangerous (There are short easy hikes from here though)) and to wear hiking boots . They urge children not to climb (Although we saw at least two but they were experienced.) Our hiking book told us that there were 7 ladder. (Ladders used in hiking are there because the mountain is too steep to climb- unless you’re a goat- so ladders are built into the mountain!) There were cables to help climb up the ladder. It can be scary and nerve racking though truth be told my husband was more nervous than I was. The book went on to tell us we’d be on one precipice and one unnerving ladder but as it turned out we loved this hike and rate it in the top 5 hikes we have done. It took us 3 ½ hours round trip to hike 2 miles!
We hiked McCrea Peak (There are many peaks but the sky was getting cloudy and we didn’t want to have to climb down wet ladders, which at the time we thought we would have to do.) You may want to go all the way to Calloway if the weather is nice. We encountered a snake and had been warned there were poisonous snakes on the mountain but when we got down we found out this guy was a good guy.
We did a really dumb thing which you can avoid if you’re reading this. We like loops i.e. not in and out hikes but different scenery and terrain going up and down. Rather than going back the way we came we avoided the ladders and took Underwood Trail which as it turned out was not only a bit longer than the ladders but made up of boulders. The going was tedious, tough and not very pretty. . We had one long ladder with no rails that was steep but once we connected with Grandfather Trail we had bypassed the ladders. I’d go down the way I went up next time!
We headed over to the swinging bridge. The Mile High Swinging Bridge was built to give visitors a view of Grandfather Mountain’s Linville Peak. It was a great view especially knowing we had been on the mountain even if we hadn’t been on Linville Peak. The bridge is a 228- suspension bridge so yes it does move and goes over an 80-foot chasm over a mile up. You’ll be climbing 50 steps to get to the Bridge; walk on rocks and really just enjoy the views . Enjoy this beautiful and challenging hike.
Please leave only footprints, take only pictures and kill only time.