Grandfather Mountain & Mile-high Swinging Bridge

Things To Do In The Smoky Mountains

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SEE HIKING | STATE PARK

228-foot-long Mile High Swinging Bridge Across an 80-foot Chasm

Grandfather Mountain is a towering presence in North Carolina, captivating visitors as one of the state’s most significant and cherished natural landmarks.

Upon entering Grandfather Mountain, guests are greeted by a nature preserve that marvelously combines the wild allure of mountainous terrain with accessible, eco-friendly activities and modern amenities. The park offers a full day’s worth of diverse experiences. From trekking through pristine wilderness trails and observing native wildlife in their habitats to exploring the Nature Museum, dining at Mildred’s Grill, and venturing across the iconic Mile High Swinging Bridge, there’s something for everyone. Visitors can also take advantage of special lodging packages, including Grandfather Mountain admission.

The Mile High Swinging Bridge, a marvel of engineering, has fascinated visitors since its installation by Hugh Morton in 1952. Spanning a gorge near the summit, the bridge rises to an elevation of one mile above sea level, a fact confirmed by a geological survey and marked on the bridge itself. Reconstructed in 1999 with enhanced materials for durability, the bridge provides a thrilling passage to Linville Peak and unparalleled views of the North Carolina High Country and beyond.

Beyond the bridge, Grandfather Mountain offers a multitude of activities, including educational naturalist programs, picnicking with over 100 tables and grills, engaging special events and tours, shopping at two gift shops and an environmentally conscious fudge shop, exploring a dozen miles of hiking trails, and participating in wildflower walks.

The Mildred the Bear Environmental Wildlife Habitats, home to elk, black bears, cougars, bald eagles, and river otters, are a testament to the mountain’s rich biodiversity and role as a wildlife haven. These habitats honor Mildred the Bear, a former resident of the mountain, and contribute to Grandfather Mountain’s status as a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve, underscoring its commitment to sustainable biodiversity management and ecological research.

Accessibility is a crucial feature of Grandfather Mountain. Attractions like the Mile High Swinging Bridge are reachable via a convenient drive to the summit, followed by an elevator ride and a short walk on a paved path, ensuring visitors of all abilities can experience the mountain’s majesty.

Visitors must purchase admission tickets to explore Grandfather Mountain, with proceeds supporting the mountain’s conservation efforts. The nearby town of Banner Elk is an excellent base for your visit, offering a range of lodging options and dining experiences, with special packages available for those looking to explore Grandfather Mountain.

For more information, visit Grandfather Mountain’s official website.

Discover Hiking Trails at Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain invites hikers of all skill levels to explore its diverse trails, offering everything from serene nature walks through lush forests and meadows to adventurous treks across its craggy peaks, equipped with ladders and cables. Experience firsthand the abundant wildlife and stunning vistas that make Grandfather Mountain a renowned destination.

As a designated part of the United Nations World Network of Biosphere Reserves, Grandfather Mountain showcases forests reminiscent of Canadian climates and hosts 16 unique natural ecosystems. This rich biodiversity includes 73 species classified as rare or endangered, with 32 facing global threats. For more insights, visit our Wilson Center for Nature Discovery or join one of our complimentary daily programs.

Trails for Every Hiker: Easy to Moderate Options Ideal for Families

We offer a selection of trails that start from the road leading to the summit, perfect for those looking for a brief nature retreat:

  • Woods Walk: This gentle 0.4-mile loop starts at a picnic area near the entrance, ideal for a peaceful woodland walk.
  • Bridge Trail: This 0.4-mile trail stretches from the Black Rock Parking Area to the Top Shop near the Mile High Swinging Bridge, offering an easy trek.
  • Black Rock Trail: A scenic 1-mile journey from the Black Rock Parking Area to breathtaking views atop a rock outcropping.
  • Grandfather Loop: Combine several trails above 5,000 feet to craft a 1.5-mile loop hike full of beautiful vistas.
  • Mile High Swinging Bridge: This bridge is accessible from the top parking area via steps or an elevator leading to a short path. For those seeking thrills, venture onto the rock cliffs for panoramic views from Linville Peak.

For the Bold: Technical and Strenuous Grandfather Trail

Grandfather Trail: This 2.4-mile path is designed for experienced hikers. It features rocky cliffs navigated with cables and ladders and culminates at Calloway Peak, the mountain’s zenith at 5,946 feet. ALLTRAILS

Backcountry Hiking in Grandfather State Park

Explore more trails like the Profile Trail on the west side and the Daniel Boone Scout Trail on the east, each with separate entrances from the state park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

PROFILE TRAIL

Daniel Boone Scout Trail

Essential Hiking Information for Grandfather Mountain

  • Preparation is Key: Check our comprehensive list of Hiking Tips and stay informed about trail conditions by calling our Entrance Gate.
  • Weather Awareness: Monitor weather forecasts closely, as conditions can change rapidly on the mountain.
  • Winter Hiking: If hiking from November to March, consult our Winter Hiking Tips for a safe experience.
  • Trail Maps: Use our mobile-friendly trail map or download the Grandfather Mountain State Park Trail Map (PDF).
  • Trail Hours and Safety: Trails close an hour before the park or earlier in October. In emergencies, contact Grandfather Mountain staff immediately. No camping within Foundation property; backcountry camping options are available at Grandfather Mountain State Park.

Embark on a hiking adventure at Grandfather Mountain and immerse yourself in the beauty and diversity of this cherished natural landmark.

State Park

Approximately two-thirds of Grandfather Mountain’s backcountry—a vast expanse of unspoiled wilderness—is preserved under the guardianship of the State of North Carolina.

Grandfather Mountain State Park Info Guide

This protected area provides public access to 12 miles of hiking trails and backpacking campsites, with entry points conveniently located at the Profile Trail parking area along N.C. 105, as well as other trailheads adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway, notably the Boone Fork Parking Area at Milepost 299.9. Additionally, for enthusiasts of day hikes, access is available through the Black Rock Parking Area, positioned just beneath the mountain’s summit. This strategic management of land ensures that the mountain’s natural beauty and ecological diversity are accessible to all who wish to explore it.

The strategic addition of 2,456 acres of Grandfather Mountain to the state parks system in 2008 marked a significant milestone in conservation efforts, spearheaded by the Morton family’s agreement with the support of The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy. The latter organization now oversees conservation easements covering almost 4,000 acres, ensuring the protection of this unique ecosystem for future generations. This collaboration not only expanded the mountain’s protected areas but also reinforced the commitment to preserving North Carolina’s natural heritage, making it a model for conservation and public enjoyment.

Grandfather Mountain State Park Info Guide

Contact Information:

State Park Office Phone: 828-963-9522
Email: grandfather.mountain@ncparks.gov
Office Address: 9872 N.C. 105 S. Suite 6, Banner Elk, NC 28604
Profile Trail Parking: 4198 N.C. 105 N., Banner Elk, NC 28604

For further details and planning your visit, please head to the State Park Website. Discover the natural beauty and rugged wilderness that Grandfather Mountain State Park has to offer.

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