About the Trails

profile trail crossing

Walking and Hiking at Grandfather Mountain

Hikers can access the the trails inside Grandfather Mountain State Park for FREE from trailheads outside the attraction. Access to the trails from the Swinging Bridge requires the purchase of a ticket to the attraction.

Grandfather Mountain has 11 trails varying in difficulty from a gentle walk in the woods to a rigorous trek across rugged peaks. It is in the backcountry of Grandfather Mountain State Park that you come up against the more challenging hikes.

For safety reasons, walking down the road is not permitted.

In-Park Nature Trails

Grandfather has a number of gentle paths that can be accessed from the summit road. Designed to offer a low-impact foray into nature, these paths allow guests to get out in the woods without requiring a long and strenuous commitment.

Backcountry Hiking Trails

Grandfather’s backcountry is very different from other areas in the South.

  • Trails take you through forests usually found in Canadian climates.
  • Many of the trails use ladders and cables to climb sheer cliff faces.
  • Grandfather is home to 16 distinct natural communities/ecosystems.
  • The Mountain is home to 73 rare or endangered species, including 32 that are globally imperiled.
  • Portions of the backcountry are sheltered within a Nature Conservancy trust.
  • Grandfather is part of the United Nation’s international network of Biosphere Reserves.

If you want to enter Grandfather Mountain State Park while visiting the attraction:

  • Access to the hiking trails in Grandfather Mountain State Park is included in the price of admission. To access the start of the Grandfather Trail, please park at the Hiker’s Parking Area, a quarter-mile below the summit.
  • Please return to your vehicle at least one hour before closing time. If, in an emergency, you leave your car on the mountain, 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.

If you want to enter Grandfather Mountain State Park without visiting the attraction:

  • Guests wishing only to hike can access Grandfather Mountain State Park for FREE from one of the two off-mountain trailheads located either on the Blue Ridge Parkway (or U.S. 221 in winter) or N.C. 105. A trail map will be available when hikers register at the trailhead.
  • If you park at an off-mountain trailhead, plan on hiking back to your car. No shuttle service can be provided.
  • If you plan to have someone pick you up at the Swinging Bridge, the driver of the pick-up vehicle will be charged regular gate admission to come into the travel attraction to pick you up.
  • Grandfather Mountain is not able to provide rides to or from trailheads.