By Jesse Wood
The opening date for the new parking area for the Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain State Park has been delayed until at least the middle of May, according to Grandfather Mountain State Park Supt. Sue McBean.
Pilot-Mountain-based Garanco is the contractor on the project, which includes construction of a restroom facility, new trailhead, parking area for 100 cars and N.C. 105 access. Work was initially expected to be complete by Thanksgiving of last year.
McBean noted that Garanco stopped working in December and started back up two to three weeks ago. She added that a construction moratorium near trout waters, which was in effect up until recently, prevented work on the turning lane into the parking area up until April 15, delaying the project’s schedule further.
This project is the first of two phases of improvements slated at Grandfather Mountain State Park. This second phase won’t begin until at least 2018 and includes an on-site park office, visitor contact station and possibly a maintenance facility.
“We’re still leasing office space in Foscoe for the state park,” McBean told High Country Press last summer. “For us to be in the state park would be really nice.”
She said the second phase of improvements would also include an extension of the trail that will create an upper loop for visitors that don’t want to spend all day hiking across Grandfather Mountain State Park.
“There’s not much in the way of loop trails on this side of the mountain, so that will be really nice,” McBean said.
Both phases have construction budgets of $1.4 million and are funded through the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the $2 billion Connect NC Public Improvement Bond voters approved in May 2016.
McBean noted that work left to do includes widening the turn lane into the new parking area, the final touchups on the restroom facility and completion of the trailhead. The parking area was paved last fall and will pretty much quadruple the parking that takes place at the current Profile Trail parking lot, located along a different stretch of N.C. 105.
This project, once complete, should curb the dozens of parked vehicles that overflow the shoulders of N.C. 105 on days when the Profile Trail is popular, which is just about every holiday, fall leaf season and summer weekend.
For more information about Grandfather Mountain State Park, click here.