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Below is a brief overview of things you should know about hiking Grandfather Mountain:

Entry Fees:

  • Grandfather became a state park in 2009 and hiking in the park is free, but does require a permit.  The Grandfather Mountain Attraction (located at the top of Grandfather, via the main entrance) is still privately managed and you must pay to enter it.

Permits:

  • To hike or camp, you must have a permit.  Permits are free and you can acquire one using a “permit box” located on the Boone Scout or Profile trails, just outside the park.

Weather:

Terrain:

  • Primitive and rugged.  Trails are well-marked, but it’s still a good idea to bring a map and compass.

Skills:

  • Backpacking experience, navigational skills, good physical condition, emergency preparedness skills
  • If you tackle some of the more commonly traveled trails like Rough Ridge, navigation and backpacking experience is not necessary.  You still, however, need to be in good physical condition as most of the trails on Grandfather are physically demanding.

What to Bring:

  • An extra layer of clothes
  • A daypack with extra food and the usual emergency items
  • Trekking poles or hiking stick
  • Camera
  • Map
  • Compass

Activities:

  • Hiking, backpacking, birdwatching, wildflower & nature hiking, geological research, visiting grandfather park & visitor center

Trails:

Other:

  • Grandfather is a wonderful place to hike as it offers both accessible hikes as well as more challenging ones.  It is personally one of my favorite places to hike and camp.

Additional Information:

  • Black bears frequent the park year round, so make noise and stay alert.
  • Avoid hiking solo and always tell someone about your plans, especially if you are tackling one of the more rigorous trails.
  • Fires are permitted only in designated areas.  Fire are restricted in some campsites at the top of the mountain due to high winds.
  • Most of the campsites are on wooden platforms that are large enough to accommodate a 3 person tent.  I recommend bringing parachute cord or some other lightweight rope for securing your tent.
  • Grandfather houses an array of unique and interesting wildlife such as the pygmy shrew, miniature tarantula, ravens, Virginia big-eared bats, and more.  Take the time to try and spot some of these rare creatures!
  • Many areas on the mountain support rare and endangered plant-life, so please tread lightly and stay on designated trails.
  • Grandfather can be extremely crowded during the high season (May-October), especially during weekends and holidays and when the fall colors emerge.  Avoid the crowds by going on a weekday.
  • In the early spring (April, I believe), individuals possessing a local driver’s license can enter the Grandfather Mountain Attraction for a fee of only $1 per person.

Grandfather Mountain State Park

Grandfather Mountain

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Grandfather Mountain: A Profile by Miles Tager

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