If you are a resident of Watauga or Avery county you are able to enter the park in the month of April and December for $1.00/person. Rangers are checking proof of residency.
The Tanawa Trail (no fee) runs parallel with the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are many parking lots/overlooks between the Linville exit and the Moses Cone Park to access this trail. One of them is called Rough Ridge Overlook and a short hike of aprox 10 minutes gets you up to some board walks. In May/June the Catawba Rhododendons are blooming. The RR trails leads right through plenty of Rhododendron fields. From the board walk you will have gorgeous views of Grandfather Mountain and into the Wilson Creek area / Pisgah National Forest. The elevation drop on this side of Grandfather Mountain is about 4500 ft. An other 10 minute hike from the boardwalks will get you up to a granite boulder for more unforgettable views.
canyon's webcam - Grandfather
I'm always interested in the origin of geographical names. Don't know if anyone else is...
"The Backcountry of Grandfather Mountain is now Grandfather Mountain State Park. Grandfather Mountain Rangers will continue to maintain and patrol the trails through 2009 until the state can introduce its own staff. There is no charge to access Grandfather Mountain State Park from trailheads at the base of the Mountain, but registration is required for safety reasons."