Grandfather Mountain is one of the most popular places in western North Carolina. Pioneers named it Grandfather Mountain because of the face they saw outlined in one of the cliffs. However, according to, the Cherokee named the area Tanawha, which means “great hawk/eagle.” In 2008, ownership of the undeveloped backside area was released, and it became a state park known as Grandfather Mountain State Park.

If you want to hike near Grandfather Mountain, there are several options. The Profile Trail is a 7.4-mile out-and-back trail that begins in Grandfather Mountain State Park and leads to Calloway Peak. Another is The Grandfather Mountain Trail to Calloway Peak, a strenuous and adventurous 4.3-mile round trip hike filled with ladder and cable climbing adventures and lots of boulder scrambling. This hike will not disappoint if you like climbing, bouldering, and breathtaking views.

Grandfather Mountain Trail to Calloway Peak

Our choice over Memorial Day Weekend 2024 was the Grandfather Mountain Trail to Calloway Peak. The weather was supposed to be hit or miss with a possible thunderstorm in the afternoon. We decided to take a chance that the rain would be minimal, and thankfully, it was. Our first true test came at just about a half mile in. The sky opened up and started raining pretty hard (as you will see in our video), and we were coming up on a steep climb that would put us on an exposed cliff. After a friendly and wise warning from another couple headed from the ladders, we decided to move forward and take it one small climb at a time, mindful of the gusts of wind and slippery conditions we might face. We made it to the cliff one small step and climb at a time. The wind was pretty cool and strong, and we could literally watch the clouds blow right past us. There wasn’t too much to see since we were in the middle of a thunderstorm cloud but it was enough to appreciate where we were. We kept trudging on as the rain moved past us. By the time we had gotten to Macrae Peak (elev. 5,845 ft), the rain had passed but the wind continued to blow. The boulder scramble up The Chute to Attic Window (elev. 5,845 ft) was fun and the wind howled as it cut around and through the slotted rock face. Cool but dry weather accompanied us all the way to Calloway Peak. Along the way we took a tiny detour in order to check out the view and, of course, get some pictures at Macrae Peak. As we waited, I got a nice compliment on my legs (thanks, KAVOD) and we chatted with some folks before and after our side adventure. The last bit to Calloway Peak can get to you as you step up onto boulder after boulder, but there are signs periodically encouraging you of the little amount you have left. I will admit the last 0.4 miles did seem a little longer, but it was great to say we made it the whole way. We were blessed with a beautiful view of the entire area at 5946 ft. The way back down definitely went by quicker. No rain and more downhill than up. We got to appreciate a lot more views that had been previously covered by clouds. And I got to ponder the ever-present question when enjoying the outdoors… especially girls; to hat or not to hat. The hat was great for keeping off the rain, but it keeps you from seeing all those rocks that extend overhead. I may or may not have given myself a concussion. But with a little adjustment and a backward-facing hat, I made it out without too much damage. This hike was adventurous, fun, challenging, and a great workout. It is worth putting on your bucket list when you are visiting the 828. Make sure you get out there and explore the quieter side of the Smokies.

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