This is the highest peak on Grandfather Mountain. It is a very popular hike and can be tackled by hikers in moderately good shape. You can also see the Summit Post section on Macrae Peak which describes another peak on Grandfather Mt. The appeal of this route is its relative solitude. You can get to the peak by several different trails but the route I describe is the most secluded. It is about a 3.5 mile hike one way and usually averages 4-5 hours round trip with an elevation gain of 1700 feet.
Look for the Boone Fork parking area North of Mile Marker 300 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take the Tanawha Trail South for about a mile to the clearly marked Daniel Boone Scout Trail. There is water available 1.5 miles in at Bear Wallow Spring. There are several designated camp areas and nice overlooks en route. Toward the top there are two sections of ladders with fixed cables that are easily negotiated in good weather.
Grandfather Mountain is privately owned. Hiking fees are charged to finance conservation efforts and trail maintenance. You will need a hiking permit available at park entrance (US 221, Linville) or Grandfather Mountain Market (US 221 and Hlloway Mtn. Rd.) Call the Rangers office for other locations (828) 737-0833 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The mountain can be climbed year round but don't be lulled into complacency. Spring, summer and fall are best.
Several small campsites are available along the trail on a first come first serve basis. Camping is in designated areas only. After reaching the top you can continue down the red-blazed Calloway Trail for additional campsites. When you purchase your hiking permit you will be given a Trail Map and Backcountry Guide that will clearly mark campsites and available water.
Lightning strikes, 100 mph winds, deep snow and sub-zero cold can set in rapidly in the fall and winter. Trails and rocky areas can be quite slippery in wet weather. Though not as rugged as other areas of the country, North Carolina does have a few challenging hikes. For current weather conditions and other info call (800) 468-7325 or go to www.grandfather.com.