Grandfather Mountain Hiking Trails

Located a short 20-minute drive from Sugar Mountain vacation rentals, Grandfather Mountain State Park offers stunning trails any hiker should explore. Grandfather Mountain State Park is home to more than 70 rare and endangered species and has been designated as United Nations Biosphere Reserve. If you’re planning to vacation in Sugar Mountain this year, add Grandfather Mountain State Park to your list of day trips in the area.

Grandfather Mountain State Park is one of the must-visit family vacation spots in North Carolina

Park Overview

The north is one of the must-visit family vacation spots in North Carolina, and part of this is because of stunning exhibits of nature, like that of Grandfather Mountain State Park. This beautiful park offers forests and ecosystems normally found in northern climates in Canada, making it a unique experience in the South.

The highlight of the park is the mountain after which the park is named, which stands tall at the western edge of the park. Whether you hike it, drive it, or observe it from below, this mountain is a sight to be seen.

Trail Guide

The park has two kinds of trails: easy-to-moderate In-Park Nature Trails, all accessed from the summit road and backcountry hiking trails that take you through forests, across cliff faces, and through a variety of ecosystems. The latter is intended for experienced hikers used to multi-day treks.

The In-Park Nature Trails offer a variety in both scenery and levels of difficulty, though all are walkable in a single day – some even in an hour or two.

The park’s flagship hike, the Grandfather Mountain trail, can be accessed via the Hiker’s Park Area about a quarter-mile from its summit. Alternatively, avid hikers can take the four-mile, out-and-back trail up 1,500 feet of elevation to reach the top. Be warned: this trail is difficult, involves scrambling (use of hands to climb up rocks), and can be muddy. But, on the other hand, it offers a challenging trek through stunning forest, rock, and, depending on the season, a variety of wildflowers.

The In-Park Trails are accessed via the Mile High Swinging Bridge, which is located a mile above sea level. The 228-foot suspension bridge hangs over an 80-foot chasm, offering breathtaking views of this fissure in the earth. On the other side of the bridge, you’ll find a number of easy trails for family-friend day trips, as well as events and activities.

There is a fee to access the bridge, activities, and In-Park Trails, which takes up about a quarter of Grandfather Mountain and its foothills. However, you can explore the miles upon miles of backcountry trails that wind through the remaining 75 percent cost-free.

Special Events

The tight-knit community and variety of events is one of the things that makes the area one of the best family vacation spots in North Carolina. The park itself hosts a number of events throughout the year, particularly during the summer months.

Garden using plants native to the park, head out on a spring birding journey with a local expert, or enjoy a nature photography – all right in Grandfather Mountain State Park. Starting April 1, there are daily animal encounters that allow people of all ages to get up-close-and-personal with otter, bear, elk, cougar, and eagle – just a few of the many species that reside in the park.

Blue Ridge Parkway is home to many of Grandfather Mountain State Park's trailheads

How to Get There from Your Sugar Mountain Cabin Rental

Getting to Grandfather Mountain State Park from our Sugar Mountain rentals is quick simple. Take the sideroads out to the 105 (around Linville Gap), and take the highway south to the town of Linville. From there, you’ll head northeast on the 221, also known as Blowing Rock Highway, which will take you right into the park. This road merges with Blue Ridge Parkway, which is home to many of the park’s trailheads. For details, maps, and more visit While online, be sure to download a trail map.

If you’re looking for another place to explore on foot, check out the Linville Caverns in Humpback Mountains. Located less than 20 minutes south of the town of Linville, this fascinating site makes for a great detour for the whole family.

Nature lovers, hikers, and families looking for a break from city life will love staying at Sugar Mountain rental homes. Check out our available rentals online and reserve your rental property today. Once you’ve booked, begin planning your hikes and other outdoor activities.

Return to Things to Do
Stay Sugar |106 Sugar Mountain Drive Sugar Mountain, NC USA 28604 | 828-898-6887