Fair disclaimer- Grandfather Mountain is awesome- the pictures in this post might be slightly lacking into really helping in the seeing is believe department-blame a faulty memory card. My bad. Virtual wrist slap.
The Appalachian chain has some amazing mountains, and right at the tiptop of the list of awesomeness for us is Grandfather Mountain. Situated right in the heart of the Appalachians- this is a vast, wild mountain, as old as time. Wander up to its summit- on a clear day you can see for miles and miles.
Thick fog high on the mountain.
The mountain itself has a relatively unique history and in recent years has split into two (figuratively of course, that would just be awkward if it were real)- half of the mountain is privately maintained while the other half remains as a State Park- both halves are amazing, both halves deserve love and time dedicated to exploration- but just to clarify today we’re chatting about the privately maintained half. This is side of the mountain is user friendly to visitors of all types whether you’re a hardcore hiker or just showed up for the epic views! The downside to this side is the that because its privately maintained, you guess it, it costs $$$$$$. The good news is that the majority of these funds goes back into the foundation that maintains and protects this precious resource and build stewards of the mountain for years to come- we’re not splurgers, but to me this one is worth it. The standard cost is $20 per person (eeek, I know), but ask about discounts, ALWAYS ASK ABOUT DISCOUNTS- AAA, student, military, Grandfather offers lots of them and they’ll save you a bundle!
So for all those dollar, dollar bills, what do you get? An awful lot. To start with, included in your admission is a free CD, pop it in when you get it, the narrator gives you a quick guided tour as you drive up the road to the top of the mountain accompanied by pretty sweet blue grass tunes to really set the mood! Stops along the road to the summit include, several amazing overlooks, a museum, restaurant, and gift shop, native species habitats (including some super cool black bears- a long standing tradition at Grandfather), a fudge shop (yum, fudge) and the pinnacle of your drive and your adventure- the mile high swing bridge suspended across two of the highest peaks on the mountain. In addition to ALL of that this side of the mountain also is home to 3 hiking trails that hikers can easily connect together to create a loop (great for a day hike) and or can continue along and connect to the trails located on the State Park side of the mountain (be prepared for a night in the backcountry).
The most important thing to remember about any trip to Grandfather (no matter which side you choose to enjoy) is that this is a rugged and rough mountain. Remember that mile high swing bridge I mentioned earlier? Mile high, as in 5,000 feet (the same elevation as the city of Denver, CO) for the East Coast that’s quite a high elevation and a giant among the peaks of the Blue Ridge- that means the rule of mountains applies here folks- the more up you go, the more about the weather you might not know- from the base of the mountain along the Parkway the weather can be gorgeous- as you climb up the mountain you become more exposed to winds and weather ( higher elevations= less trees), meaning sometimes what you see at the bottom isn’t what you get at the top. Insert, the tale of our most recent travel to the top- we took a mini “hurrication” to escape the wrath of Hurricane Matthew has it barreled toward our home base in Savannah, GA- got all the way to the top of Grandfather only to be greeted by a summited socked-in in fog, with hurricane force winds, trying to knock us right off our feet- not to mention it was freaking cold… burrrrrrrr. Want a good laugh at my expense? Click here to watch a video of me almost getting blown off a mountain!
To us, that’s ok. Its part of the adventure, I’ve stood on the summit in perfect weather and its incredible, I’ve stood on the summit when I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face through the fog and wind, and that’s incredible too! If you’re really set on seeing the views on perfect day and crossing that swing bridge without 35mph winds blowing you around then call ahead or take a peek at the summit as you approach from the Parkway- generally if you can see the peak is clear, it’ll be clear when you get there too! But if you’re up for an adventure, just go, embrace what you get- even as a seasoned climber I can tell you that bridge can be pretty gnarly in a good strong head wind! Not to mention, enough wind, and the bridge sings like a harmonica as the wind cuts through it- yep it sings. Have a sold you yet on the foggy weather days? They’re pretty amazing.
The center of the mile high swing bridge, reminds you exactly how high up you are!
For more info visit Grandfather Mountain online, here– worth a click even if its just to check out their awesome list of annual events, Highland Games anyone? Interested in exploring the State Park side of the mountain? Click here.
Been to Grandfather? Have a story to tell about YOUR favorite mountain. Drop us a line in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!
Grandfather Mountain – Just The Basics:
Address: US 221 & The Blue Ridge Parkway
Linville, NC 28646
Cost: $20 per person (AAA, Senior, Student & Military Discounts Available)
Things To Do: Hiking, Wildlife Watching, Museum, Scenic Overlooks, Nature Photography