MacRae Peak is one of 3 peaks on whats known as Grandfather mountain. Grandfather Mountain has been singled out by the United Nations as a member of the international Biosphere Reserves. To meet biosphere criteria,the area has to have global ecological significance. They must be protected from development,have scientific study, and give public education. Grandfather Mountain is the only privately owned biosphere in the world. The mountain is one of the most biologically diverse regions on earth. To reach MacRae Peak you start out on the Grandfather trail, one of the souths most rugged trails. This trail is a ridge trail that scales MacRae Peak, Window Attic Peak, and Calloway Peak the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains (5964ft.) The route to MacRae goes in and out of wind dwarfed spruce and fir, across and around rock walls, and requires the use of cables and ladders to get to the peak. This is a excellent trail, it is the best area I have hiked so far in the eastern u.s. When I came to hike to these peaks I thought that I would be able to do them all, you can, but I only had 2 days and the first day the mountain was closed to hiking because of nearly 100mph winds at the weather station at the parking area. The next day I at least got to sample the area with a hike to MacRae, but time wouldnt let me go to Calloway. Grandfather Mountain maintains around 13 miles of trails that travel over 4000 acres of backcountry. Hikers should be alert to weather conditions on the mountain,Hikers have died here from exposure, lighting strikes,falls, and heart attacks. There is a weather station at the visitor center.
Highest Temperature recorded on the mountain was 83 degrees 8/22/83
Highest Winds ever recorded were 196mph 4/18/97
The most snow was 116 inches winter of 1995/96
The most rain in a day was 6.38 inches 3/12/63
The lowest temperature recorded was -32 degrees on 1/21/85
The least snow was 8.14 inches winter of 1956/57
The average rainfall is 61.61 inches per year
The average snowfall is 55.97 inches per winter
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The winds > 60 mph 21 times per year
The winds > 100 mph 4 times per year
* Update* winter 2006 had winds of over 200mph before they broke the recorder!!
When to climb
MacRae is climbable all year around. But in the winter you would need full on snow and ice gear at times.MacRae isnt as high as western mountains but conditions can get very rough. Summer can have bad thunderstorms and lightning strikes are serious. It can get real windy up here too. Use common since and enjoy this area.
Fellow SPer desainme has a excellent page on Tanawha(Grandfather Mountain). I suggest that anyone checking this page out should check the Tanawha page out as well, he has a great list on places to stay and camp and gives good directions to the mountain. MacRae peak is one of the 3 highest peaks on Grandfather Mountain and in the Blue ridge Mountains.