How to Visit Grandfather Mountain State Park For Free | Always A Foreigner

How to Visit Grandfather Mountain State Park For Free

How to Visit Grandfather Mountain State Park For Free | Always A Foreigner

Caren and Cazzie

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How to Visit Grandfather Mountain State Park For Free

Oh, to visit Grandfather Mountain. The mile high swinging bridge, dense and diverse forests, and panoramic views have long been a favorite in the hearts of many in North Carolina and beyond. Which probably explains why the beauty comes at a cost…of $20 a person.

I have a very real problem with paying for nature. I understand that the money charged for admission goes back into the park, creating fun and meaningful exhibits for visitors to the park. But also, it’s nature. It should be free, right?

After some searching the vague information available on the internet, I came to the conclusion that you could visit the park for free. The catch: you have to work for it.

The Profile Trail and Tanawha Trail will both link you to visit Grandfather Mountain State Park trails. While I haven’t yet taken Tanawha Trail, I can vouch for Profile Trail as a fun and moderately challenging hike.

Profile Trail trail head is off of NC 105 near Linville, and has recently received a much needed remodel. The entrance is now about a half mile difference from the old parking lot, and has ample parking, washroom facilities and a place to leave your permits.

Permits are necessary for all hikers and campers on the Profile Trail. The free permits are located at the trail head. You fill out the permit, place one copy in the drop box, and keep one copy on you at all times during the hike. I’m not sure the exact reason behind the permits, but I’m assuming that there have been issues with missing people. Which says a lot about how to visit Grandfather Mountain.

I’ve hiked the Profile Trail twice. The first time was a gorgeous, bluebird day. The second, was a little more ominous. As we climbed further up the mountain, the weather became more and more menacing. It’s best to prepare for all weather situations while in the area, as weather conditions can change rapidly. Do as we say and not as we do, because we definitely did not pack any sort of rain appropriate gear.We were forced to turn around as we realized we didn’t have any wet weather clothes.

And what a trail it is. It starts moderately by following a small creek. There will be a small waterfall before the trail starts to really incline. The trail opens up into a clearing with a viewpoint and a much needed bench. After the bench, the trail starts to wind it’s way up the mountain. At one point, there are giant boulders that make up the entirety of the path, surrounded by dense forest.

There are campsites available along the trail. Some have raised platforms, which is nice because the weather is wet. The campsites aren’t too far off the trail though, and I’m not sure if it’s that secluded feel that most campers desire.

From the parkway, it’s possible to access the Tanawha Trail. This gorgeous trail offers up beautiful views of the Linn Cove Viaduct as you climb. The Viaduct was the last portion of the Parkway to be built in 1987, completing the 469 mile long road. The Linn Cove Viaduct was an answer to environmentalists hoping to preserve the fragile and endangered habitat of Grandfather Mountain.

Tanawha Trail actually spans 13.5 miles but the access point from Julian Price Park to Beacon Heights. The access point from the Parkway at the Viaduct will take you to Grandfather in a much shorter distance than the full 13 miles.

Tanawha was the original name for the mountain. The Cherokee Native American named it, meaning “a fabulous hawk or eagle.” The name only changed when European colonizers saw the face of a man in the mountain peaks and started calling it Grandfather instead.

how to access grandfather for free

No matter the name, and no matter if you choose to spend the $20 to visit Grandfather Mountain or hike up for free, the views from the top are spectacular. There’s no better way to spend the day than in the mountains, so take advantage of the beauty of Western North Carolina from this gorgeous and well-maintained state park.


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