One of the great destinations in the South, Grandfather Mountain stands head and shoulders above the High Country as one of North Carolina’s top scenic attractions.
One of the mountain’s best-known pastimes is a walk across the Mile High Swinging Bridge. It is located a mile above sea level and is the highest suspension footbridge in the country. A journey to the end offers 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The nearby “Top Shop” provides elevator access to the bridge, making it accessible for disabled visitors.
Eleven hiking trails are available across the mountain. They vary in difficulty from an easy stroll in a meadow to a rugged trek up challenging terrain. Interpretive rangers are available year-round to lead guided hikes, bird walks and wildflower walks for groups and families. As you hike the trails, you’ll see a variety of wildlife.
Speaking of wildlife, Grandfather Mountain has seven environmental habitats, which are large enclosures showcasing animals in their natural settings. See black bears, river otters, white-tailed deer, cougars and bald eagles as they play, pounce and swim. For even closer access to these native animals, behind-the-scenes tours take place on Saturdays and Sundays from April through October.
The Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum contains more than two dozen exhibits about the region’s natural history. There are emeralds, rubies and gold pulled from the North Carolina soil, a scale model of Grandfather Mountain and lifelike wax examples of wildflowers, berries and mushrooms that are found here.
Plan to stay for lunch. Pack your own picnic or order something to go from Mildred’s Grill. More than 100 picnic tables are scattered throughout the property. Don’t leave without a sweet treat from the Grandfather Mountain Fudge Shop.
The mountain gets its unique name from pioneers who recognized that from certain vantage points, the cliffs resemble the profile of an old man or a “grandfather.”
Grandfather Mountain is open daily year-round, weather permitting. Hours vary seasonally. You can learn more by calling 800-468-7325 or visiting www.grandfather.com.