When Hugh Morton, the late founder of Grandfather Mountain, inherited the mountain in 1952, he aspired to make one of the East Coast’s most rugged mountains available to everyone.

Part of his vision of the Mile High Swinging Bridge, which connects two of the mountain’s prominent peaks, came from the desire to give his grandmother access to the lofty heights and the unique vantage point they provide. Knowing that she and others would not be able to hike or climb to these magnificent views, he created another way to provide those with limited mobility with this opportunity.

Today, Grandfather Mountain is more accessible to individuals with limited mobility than ever before, and we are continually seeking more ways to improve.

Overlooks, Picnic Areas and Views

Much of Grandfather Mountain is accessible to those with limited mobility.

Overlooks are located along the road to the top. You can enjoy all of the views from your vehicle, or you can get out of your car if you like. Picnic tables are located close to where you would park your car, with around a dozen picnic areas in the park.

Unfortunately, we cannot offer wheelchair or stroller rentals at this time.

The Mile High Swinging Bridge (wheel chair-accessible)

Since 2010, the Top Shop has provided elevator access to the Mile High Swinging Bridge, making the span truly accessible. There are a few hundred yards of paved pathway from the building to the bridge, and one bench is located near the bridge.

Wildlife Habitats (1/4 mile loop, occasionally steep)

The paths through the wildlife habitat area make a 1/4 mile loop. The path to the bear habitat is fairly steep, but it has switchbacks to reduce the incline. Benches are spaced along the route.

The paths through the habitats are paved and accessible by wheelchair. If you need help with the hills, please ask at the Wilson Center gift shop, and we will assist you.

Hiking Trails (Varying difficulty)

You do not need to hike the trails to enjoy Grandfather Mountain, but a short hike might make your visit more fun.

The in-park nature trails, including the Woods Walk, Bridge Trail and Black Rock Trail, are less strenuous trails, while the backcountry trails are quite rigorous. Due to rocks and roots on the trails, none are suitable for wheelchairs.

Service Animals

Grandfather Mountain welcomes guests with disabilities who choose to bring their trained service animal to the park. While pets are not allowed inside any of the buildings or in the Mildred the Bear Environmental Habitats, service animals and service animals in training are permitted in these areas.

ADA-Compliant Vehicles

Thanks to the North Carolina Science Museums Grant Program and funding made possible by the federal American Rescue Plan Act, Grandfather Mountain purchased an ADA-compliant shuttle and a utility terrain vehicle (UTV) in 2023.

With seating for 14, including spaces for two wheelchair-bound passengers and a 1,000-pound Braun Lift, the shuttle enables the transportation of wheelchair-bound individuals from a school group or other group with their classmates or party. It is also available during the mountain’s special events like Adult Field Courses, Grandfather by Night and Grandfather Glows to provide transportation for attendees.

The UTV increases access for individuals with limited mobility to participate in guided behind-the-scenes experiences at the nature park’s animal habitats, like “Meet the Bears” and “Paint With an Otter,” allowing all participants to have up-close encounters with the habitat animals.

Advance request is required for the shuttle and UTV for the purposes listed above.


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