Grandfather Mountain Remains Open Despite Numerous Road Closures and Detours

Published Thursday, May 24, 2018 at 11:30 am

Despite flood damage to U.S. 221, the Grandfather Mountain nature park remains open and easily accessible via the open portions of the popular highway. (Photo by Skip Sickler, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation)

By Nathan Ham

Heavy rains have taken a toll on several roads and highways across the High Country, including U.S. Highway 221 between Blowing Rock and Linville. The road will be closed for the foreseeable future as a portion of the road was washed out about two miles north of the Grandfather Mountain entrance.

“We are collaborating with companies outside of the DOT to fix the problems. We also have our own NCDOT engineering guys coming in to look at it because it’s so steep we can’t do what we would normally do to fix the problem,” said NCDOT worker Josh Wright on Monday.

Add in the delays of final repairs and resurfacing of the Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway that will keep that portion road closed through the Memorial Day Weekend, it has been a tough time for scenic travel in the High Country. According to the National park Service, the heavy rainfall has kept the final paving steps from taking place. There needs to be a minimum of 48 hours of dry weather for the final steps to be completed.

Despite these road closures, Grandfather Mountain will remain open for residents and tourists. Visitors from Boone and Blowing Rock will need to travel N.C. Highway 105 South to U.S. 221 North to get to the park while people traveling from Asheville and that area can travel U.S. 221 North to the entrance as the road closure is south of that area.

If you are traveling north on the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to Grandfather Mountain, take the exit at milepost 305 to get to the entrance.

“We’re thankful for the N.C. Department of Transportation’s efforts in keeping our guests and motorists safe,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation. “Fortunately, Grandfather Mountain itself did not sustain significant damage.

Two trails at Grandfather Mountain State Park in Avery, Watauga, and Caldwell counties are closed to visitors due to damage sustained from heavy rains May 17-20, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. The park received 11 inches of rain in four days and more rain is in the forecast throughout the coming week.

Nuwati and Cragway trails will likely be closed for several weeks as state park crews continue to assess damage, repair eroded sections of trail, and clear debris from around trails. Campsites accessed from the Nuwati Trail—Streamside, The Hermitage, Storyteller’s Rock and The Refuge—are also closed until the trail reopens.

All other trails at Grandfather Mountain State Park remain open but are also severely eroded and some have sections of steps washed out. In some places, there is standing or moving water on the trails and there are many slippery areas along the trails. Park officials ask that hikers take these factors into consideration when planning a trip to the park. 

Mortimer Campground closed, other area roads either impassable or a four-wheel drive vehicle is needed

The U.S. Forest Service said on Thursday that the Mortimer Campground in the Wilson Creek area of Caldwell County on the Pisgah National Forest’s Grandfather Ranger District is temporarily closed to due flood damage sustained.

The forest service has started the process of assessing the damage and looking for ways to repair it. The campground will be closed through Memorial Day Weekend and will be reopened as soon as conditions are deemed safe for visitors.

Several landslides and washouts on area roads around Wilson Creek in Caldwell and Avery Counties have been severely impacted. Schoolhouse Ridge Road is currently closed to all motor vehicle traffic. Roseboro Road is only passable for high clearance and four-wheel drive vehicles. Mortimer-Piedmont Road and Edgemont-Pinola Road are in poor condition but are considered passable for most vehicles.

Damage to Mortimer Campground as a result of weekend storms. (USFS photo by Lisa Jennings)

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