Trek across a scenic landscape that is home to 70 rare and endangered species and 16 distinct natural communities. The mountain is an International Biosphere Reserve. There's no more appropriate place to obey the maxim:Take only photos; leave only footprints.
Hikers should be aware of their╩timing and hiking ability when hiking the trails at Grandfather Mountain. NC State Rangers╩and Grandfather Mountain╩attraction staff╩will not╩provide rides from any of the trail heads to or from another location. It is the hikers personal╩responsibility to make appropriate╩accommodations to get from one place to the other.
(2.4 miles, strenuous, blue blaze)
The Grandfather Trail runs the length of the summit ridge from the Grandfather Mountain attraction to Calloway Peak. If offers astonishing variety, running in and out of wind-dwarfed spruce and fir, across or around rock walls and pinnacles and into open spaces with mountain views in every direction. It was along this trail two centuries ago that explorer/botanist Andre Michaux broke into song thinking he had arrived at the high point of North America.
The pace is often slow. There are chutes where progress is hand-over-hand and extra steep sections where hikers use in-place cables and ladders. An alternative to taking the ladders up MacRae Peak is to opt for the more sheltered Underwood Trail. Not recommended for children or inexperienced hikers.
Grandfather Extension Trail
(0.6 mile, moderate, red blaze)
This trail extends the Grandfather Trail down to the attraction's trails parking area and can be used to fashion a loop hike in that area. Ends below a grand view of MacRae Peak.
(0.5 mile, strenuous, yellow blaze)
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 trail makes a steep, very rocky loop under the crest line around Raven Rock Cliffs by way of one ladder.
Black Rock Trail
(mile, moderate, yellow blaze)
From the Grandfather Mountain attraction, the Black Rock Trail slopes out gradually to a wide-angle view of the swinging bridge, MacRae and Attic Window peaks as well as Beacon Heights and Grandmother Mountain to the southwest. This self-guided nature trail rambles through northern hardwood and spruce forests.
(3.1 miles, strenuous, no blaze)
Beginning as a scenic, rolling pathway through seasonal wildflowers, this trail crosses the Watauga River and travels under a hardwood canopy for much of its length. Upper sections, beginning around Foscoe View, get steeper. There are frequent rest stops with stone benches and turnouts.
Shanty Spring, at 2.7 miles, marks a transition into a strenuous pathway of tumble-down rock that joins the Grandfather Trail after a climb of 0.3 miles. It makes the transition out of the hardwoods and into the Canadian fir zone of the crest area. The upper section is steep and rocky and calls for careful footwork.
Daniel Boone Scout Trail
(3.0 miles, moderate, white blaze)
Ascending about 2,000 feet over three miles, this hike begins at the Blue Ridge Parkway's Tanawha Trail and climbs to Calloway Peak, at 5,964 feet, the highest point in the Blue Ridge Range. About halfway up, at Flat Rock View, hikers reach the junction of Cragway Trail.
The upper half of the Daniel Boone Scout Trail is rough going but spiced with exquisite views, including one of Price Park and one of the Linn Cove Viaduct. Near Calloway Peak, in-place ladders and cables help hikers through steep sections.
(1.2 miles, easy, blue blaze)
This trail follows the track of an old logging road. It's an easy but rocky hike, ending at Storyteller's Rock and a spectacular view of the Boone area. There are stream crossings, a solitary stand of big-tooth aspens and reminders of logging days gone by.
(mile, strenuous, orange blaze)
A steep, strenuous hike with grand vistas. Boulders and crags offer elevated views of the Boone Fork area. This trail links Nuwati and Daniel Boone Scout trails, making a nice loop hike passing through rhododendron and blueberry thickets.
Note: Access to East Side Trails from the Blue Ridge Parkway
From the Blue Ridge Parkway area, there are two points of access. Most hikers use the Boone Fork Parking Area at mile 299.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The second is the Parkway's Asutsi Trail, which beings across from Serenity Farm on US 221 (the only winter access when the Parkway is closed). From either of these points, hikers can follow the Parkway's Tanawha Trail south to reach Grandfather's Nuwati or Daniel Boone Scout Trail trailheads. (Note: no camping is allowed on trails of the National Park Service on the Blue Ridge Parkway).