Grandfather Trail Loop

Grandfather Trail Loop Hike

This 1.5-mile “Grandfather Trail Loop” hike utilizes three trails and gives you a nice sampling of crest hiking above 5,000 feet through an Alpine forest, by towering boulders and underneath the Swinging Bridge. At the bridge, take a quick detour to cross it to reach Linville Peak (adds about a quarter of a mile). The hike climbs about 400 feet in elevation with a few steep sections, so allow an hour to take it slow.

Where to begin? Park in the Black Rock Lot just below the summit. At the far end, look for a trail sign and sign-in station that marks the trailhead. After a few steps into the woods, follow the Grandfather Trail Extension to the left.

Grandfather Trail Loop

The 6/10 of a mile Grandfather Trail Extension climbs steadily, accounting for most of the elevation gain for the entire loop. The uphill climb will slow you down to look around at the lush forest and interesting boulder formations.

Grandfather Trail

At the end of the trail, turn left onto Grandfather Trail toward the Mile High Swinging Bridge. You’ll get a small taste of this challenging crest trail with a couple of brief climbs and descents. Small children will need a helping hand. It’s about a third of a mile to the Top Shop parking area.

Note: If you turn right on Grandfather Trail toward MacRae Peak, be prepared for a very strenuous trek, complete the cables and ladders to navigate the steep climb. Read more.

Grandfather Trail Loop

As you approach the end of Grandfather Trail, you will have a great vantage point of the Top Shop and Swinging Bridge. To the right of the Top Shop and staircase, look for the start of the Bridge Trail – the final piece to the loop. Before you begin this last section, you should cross the Swinging Bridge and summit Linville Peak on the other side. Find restrooms, gift shop, gallery and snacks inside the Top Shop.

To complete the Grandfather Trail Loop, follow the Bridge Trail underneath the Swinging Bridge. Follow this for 0.4 mile back to the Black Rock Lot. Read more about the Bridge Trail.

Know Before You Go

  • See our full list of Hiking Tips.
  • This trail is included in your admission ticket. Buy tickets online here.
  • Looking for other trails on Grandfather Mountain? Go to our Hiking Guide.
  • Hiking trails are subject to weather-related closings. For the most up-to-date information on trail closures, please call our Entrance Gate at 828-733-4337.
  • Dogs are allowed on a leash. 
  • Check the weather forecast right before you begin your hike. Weather changes quickly here, often with unpredicted storms. Read more about our weather.
  • Hiking in November through March? See our Winter Hiking Tips.
  • Download the Grandfather Mountain State Park Trail Map (PDF)
  • Hiking trails close one hour prior to the park’s closing. If there is an emergency or you cannot make it back to your car by closing, please call 828-733-2800 (Top Shop), 828-733-4337 (Gate) or 828-733-1059 (Nature Museum) as soon as possible to notify Grandfather Mountain staff. If you do not call, we will send out a search party.
  • See other Things to Do during your visit.
Grandfather Trail Loop Map

Grandfather Mountain | Home to the Swinging Bridge, Animal Habitats and Nature Museum

GPS: 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646
Mailing: PO Box 129, Linville, NC 28646

Owned & operated by Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.
Go here for Grandfather Mountain State Park information.
Member of Southern Highlands Attractions