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Grandfather Mountain Staff Expects Uptick in Hikers this Fall, Shares Hiking Tips

September 16, 2021. The call of the wild has been loud and clear during the pandemic with many people looking for a way to escape, get outdoors and connect more with their loved ones and nature. That trend is evident with Grandfather Mountain experiencing record attendance the last two years. With more people visiting, the park has also observed a substantial increase in hikers. In 2019, the Linville, N.C., nature preserve recorded 11,889 hikers between January and August. In 2021, 15,110 hikers hit the trails during that same period, a 27-percent increase. “Having more people on the trails means that people are getting back to nature and specifically seeing the wonders of Grandfather Mountain in a unique way,” said H Patton III, natural resource management specialist for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the park. “Hiking our trails offers one of the most difficult and exciting experiences that our guests can have. The rugged connection to the mountain is one that they will never forget.”

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Hawk Watch Returns to Grandfather Mountain Throughout the Month of September

August 20, 2021. Being a mile high has its advantages. From atop Grandfather Mountain, visitors can grab a front-row seat to one of nature’s most stunning spectacles — thousands of raptors migrating over the mountains and heading south toward their wintering grounds. Guests can observe the raptors during the annual Hawk Watch, in which official counters note the number of passersby in the sky throughout the entire month of September. Raptors are birds of prey, such as hawks, eagles, owls and vultures. The telltale signs of the raptor are sharp talons, a hooked upper bill and keen eyesight. While some raptors remain in place during winter, most will travel south, where food is more abundant. Grandfather Mountain is a prime spot for viewing this phenomenon, because it sits along the eastern escarpment of the Appalachian Mountains, and its rocky peaks generate strong thermal uplifts and allow prime visibility.

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The Nest Best Thing: Grandfather Mountain Celebrates Peregrine Falcon Nesting

August 13, 2021. At its tallest point, Grandfather Mountain stands 5,946 feet above sea level. But the nonprofit nature park’s latest conservation efforts soar to even loftier heights. In conjunction with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, park naturalists have confirmed the successful nesting of two peregrine falcons — the first on Grandfather Mountain since 2008. Why are a couple of small fledglings such a big deal? “Peregrine falcons are formerly a federally endangered species,” said Clifton Avery, mountain wildlife diversity technician with NCWRC. “They were delisted in 1999, but they’re still a state-level endangered species in North Carolina.” That means North Carolina has only about 15 to 20 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons in state every year. “So, that’s not a lot — at all,” Avery said.

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John ‘The Mountain’ Van Beuren Rises Above the Competition at Highland Games

July 13, 2021. The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games has a reputation for inviting select professional athletes to come and enter in to its slate of time-honored competitions, but this year, John Van Beuren, called the games to ask if he could participate on his own accord. Based on Saturday, July 10’s results, this approach worked out pretty well for him. Beuren finished first overall in the men’s heavy athletics competition, winning the open stone, lightweight for distance, hammer and weight over bar categories, while placing well in the heavyweight for distance, the caber toss and sheaf toss. Even though it was only his second outing as a pro, Van Beuren showed out during his first trip to Grandfather Mountain. His only other experience as a professional came in 2018 when he competed at a Highland Games in Idaho and has since quickly learned the ins-and-outs of what it means to be a pro. “There’s no set way (to become a pro). You just have to know the numbers that people post on their throws, and you have to make sure your numbers are pretty close,” he said. “And you really have to know people. I didn’t really know anybody, but I knew who the athletic director was, and I called him, said I was free to come, and fortunately he had a spot open.”

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Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Women’s Heavy Athletics Bolstered by Tough Competition

July 13, 2021. In just over a span of five years, the women’s heavy athletic division at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games has grown from a group of three dedicated competitors to now attracting more than a dozen professional athletes form the across the country to participate in the weekend’s slate of ancient competitions. Leading this group during the Elite women’s category on Saturday, July 10, was Elissa Van Vleck, a first-grade teacher from Fort Worth, Texas, who finished first overall after stringing together dominant performances in the 28-pound toss and the lightweight throw for distance. Vleck previously won the GMHG in 2019, making her the back-to-back champion after the games were postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A prominent track and field athlete who specialized in shot put, discus and javelin while attending Aurora University in Chicago, Vleck began competing in Highland Games at the recommendation of her college coach. “When I found another passion and tried to be a runner with five kids, that did not go well,” Vleck said. “So then my university coach told me to try the Highland Games, and I was like, ‘I don’t know what that is,’ but he gave me one practice, shoved me out the door, and said ‘Good luck.’”

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App State Students Take Top Honors in Highland Games Track & Field

July 13, 2021. Two Boone residents took their track and field careers to new heights at the 2021 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. Patrick Freeman and Casey Meinert, both seniors at Appalachian State University, were named Outstanding Athletes of the track and field competition at this year’s Highland Games. Freeman competed at the Games in 2019, but 2021 marked Meinert’s first year doing so. “It was a ton of fun,” she said. “I absolutely loved it.” “It’s the most fun track event I’ve been to,” Freeman added. A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., Freeman is currently studying geography at Appalachian State and hopes to become a wildlands firefighter after graduation. Meinert hails from Stafford, Va., and is studying nutrition and dietetics at Appalachian. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree and a career in pediatric nutrition.

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Locals Claim Top Spots in Return of Race Up Grandfather Mountain

July 9, 2021. During the 26th annual running of The Bear, Grandfather Mountain’s breathtaking views took on a literal meaning as more than 800 runners ascended 1,568 feet over the span of five miles to mark the return of the iconic race, following a hiatus due to COVID-19. Yet, first-place finisher Josh Izewski appeared to breathe easy shortly after finishing the endeavor with a time of 31:50.7. “It’s an awesome race,” Izewski said. “It’s great that they were able to put it on. They do a great job, and I’m excited to be able to come out here.” Izewski, a professional runner who lives in Blowing Rock, carried on the tradition of endurance athletes with ZAP Fitness finishing the race among the top competitors. Izewski said that it was his first time running The Bear and that he trained for the mountain’s steep grade by running the hills up to the Moses Cone Manor at the Bass Lake just 10 and a half miles away.

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Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Return July 8-11 with Four Days of Entertainment and Competition

July 5, 2021. During summer, Grandfather Mountain is known for its lush greenery and the kaleidoscope colors of myriad blooms. During July, however, guests can add an entirely different palette to that mix — plaid. And lots of it. Come July 8-11, Grandfather Mountain is home to the 2021 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. During this time, MacRae Meadows, located at the base of Grandfather Mountain, will be brimming with bagpipes, Scottish athletics, Highland melodies, Celtic cuisine, crafts aplenty and tons of tartans. “The Games hearken back to the rich cultural traditions of Scotland in a setting not so different from the mountains and glens some 3,600 miles away,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Linville, N.C., nature park. Operated and organized by Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Inc., the Highland Games begin Thursday afternoon, July 8, with border collie sheepherding demonstrations, Celtic entertainment, the running of “The Bear” uphill foot race and the opening ceremonies.

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Grandfather Mountain’s May Weather Report Shows Near Record-High Temperature for the Month

June 2, 2021 Data recorded at the official National Weather Service reporting station at Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge indicated average May weather at the Linville, N.C., nature park. The lowest temperature observed in April 2021 was 31° Fahrenheit on May 8. The lowest temperature ever observed on Grandfather Mountain in the month of May was 15° on May 6, 1957. The warmest day recorded in May 2021 was 76° on May 25 and 27 — only 2 degrees shy of the mountain’s record May high of 78°, recorded May 19, 1996. The average high temperature for the month was 62.3°, with an average low of 45°, for a May 2021 mean of 53.7°.

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Grandfather Mountain Hosts Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble May 29 to June 6

May 26, 2021 During the first week of June, parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains tend to look a little more pink and purple — especially on Grandfather Mountain. The pastel hues come courtesy of rhododendron blooms, which tend to flourish at higher elevations and cooler temperatures. Grandfather Mountain is celebrating the rhododendron — and the forthcoming arrival of summer — with the Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble, a series of guided strolls that allows guests to observe the blooms and learn about their history, attributes and roles they play in the mountain’s ecological communities. The programs, which take place at 2 p.m. daily May 29 through June 6, are free with regular park admission.

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Grandfather Mountain Sets New Record for Highest Recorded Wind Gust of 121.3 MPH


February 13, 2019 The high winds that continue to blow in the High Country brought a new record wind gust to Grandfather Mountain early Wednesday Morning. At around 4 a.m. this morning, the weather station at Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge had a gust recorded at 121.3 MPH, breaking the previous record of 120.7 MPH set at 7 a.m. on December 21, 2012. Over a 24-hour span at Grandfather Mountain, wind gusts jumped from 34 MPH at 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning to the new record o 121.3 MPH this morning. The first triple digit wind gust of the morning was recorded just after midnight with a gust of 106.2. A wind gust of 100.6 MPH was recorded as late at 7 a.m. By Nathan Ham

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See the First Sunrise of 2017 on January 1 from Atop Grandfather Mountain

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Dec. 13, 2016. “These events are popular among photographers of all skill levels, as well as nature lovers hoping to see the Blue Ridge Mountains in a new light,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees the park. “Sunrise on Grandfather Mountain is nothing short of magnificent.”

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In December at Grandfather Mtn. State Park: 100 Mile Hike, Scavenger Hunt and More

Dec. 2, 2016. Get outside this holiday season and enjoy the natural wonders awaiting you at Grandfather Mountain State Park. The month of December offers up events including the 100 Mile Hike challenge in honor of the North Carolina State Parks’ Centennial, a photo scavenger hunt through the park on Christmas Day and First Day Hikes to kick off 2017 on January 1.

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‘Tis the Season: Holidays Bring Dollar Days, Discounts and More to Grandfather Mountain

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Dec. 1, 2016. With winter on the way, Grandfather Mountain is decking its halls — and hills — for the holidays. Visitors are invited to celebrate the season from a mile high, where they’ll encounter idyllic winter scenery, invigorating outdoor adventure and more at the Linville, N.C., nature preserve and travel attraction. Photo by Victoria Darlington | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

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Sierra Club Gets Free Admission to Grandfather Mountain Sept. 25 on John Muir Day

Sept. 16, 2016. “John Muir visited Grandfather Mountain in late September of 1898,” said Mickey Shortt, director of education and natural resources for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Linville nature preserve and travel attraction. “While here, he seemed most impressed by the diversity of trees in the deciduous forest around Grandfather and the endless ridges that came into view from the peaks.”

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THIS WEEKEND: State Parks Centennial: Dr. McMillan at ASU Friday, Expeditions at Grandfather Saturday

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Aug. 22, 2016. “Exploring 100 Years of Grandfather Mountain: A State Park Centennial Celebration” Dr. Patrick McMillan on Friday, Aug. 26, 7-9 p.m. ASU Library, 218 College St, Boone (Room 114). Expeditions at Grandfather Mountain State Park: Saturday, Aug. 27 beginning at 11 a.m. Boone Fork Parking Lot; Blue Ridge Parkway, just north of mile marker 300(GPS: 36.120076, -81.781358) Nuwati Hikes leave every 30 minutes beginning at 11:00am, the last hike leaves at 1:30pm. Cragway loop hikes leave at 11:15am and 12:15pm (longer and more strenuous hikes). Plan on two hours for the Nuwati Trail; three hours for the Cragway loop.

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Celebrate State Parks Centennial Aug. 26 at ASU, Aug. 27 at Grandfather Mountain

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Aug. 16, 2016. After a prolonged era of private ownership, his grandeur and glory are now preserved for generations to come, and new leadership promises improvements that will make his peaks and valleys more accessible to the public. As the North Carolina State Parks system celebrates its centennial this year, we, too, are invited to celebrate its steadfast commitment to our natural resources through its latest acquisition, Grandfather Mountain. By Angela Gazzillo. Photos by Todd Bush.

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Annual Animal Enrichment Day Set for Wed. August 3 at Grandfather Mountain

July 25, 2016. How do you keep an animal entertained? You otter come find out! On Aug. 3, the Grandfather Mountain will host Animal Enrichment Day, during which guests can participate in games and activities centered on providing the habitat animals with special enrichments — treats designed to break up their routines and help keep them active and intellectually stimulated.

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Exploring 100 Years of Grandfather Mountain: A State Park Centennial Celebration

July 28, 2016. On Friday, August 26 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., join us in a special event to celebrate the spectacular attributes of Grandfather Mountain and 100 years of NC State Parks. Host of Expeditions with Patrick McMillan and Director of the South Carolina Botanical Garden, Dr. McMillan will present a moving and inspiring lecture about the 5946’ mountain which is home to over 70 threatened or endangered species.

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Amateurs and Pros Invited to Grandfather Mountain’s Annual Camera Clinic Aug. 13-14

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July 18, 2016. Amateur and professional photographers can now register for the Grandfather Mountain Camera Clinic, a two-day seminar that offers presentations from outstanding photojournalists and opportunities for participants to improve their skills. The clinic, set for Aug. 13 and 14, also allows participants the rare prospect of photographing scenic Grandfather Mountain at dawn and dusk and chances to network with others interested in the craft.

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