Fall color makes for a colorful canopy on the Grandfather Mountain Profile Trail. (Photo by Skip Sickler)

The 3.1-mile Profile Trail begins as a scenic, rolling pathway through seasonal wildflowers, the Watauga River and rhododendron thickets, all under a hardwood canopy. The upper sections grow steeper, eventually becoming strenuous, as the trail climbs .3 miles before joining the Grandfather Trail, a steep and rocky ascent that calls for careful footwork. The reward is an unparalleled view from the top.