Grandfather Mountain Trail Systems Damaged By Rains, Repairs Underway and Opening Soon

Published Friday, June 1, 2018 at 11:55 am

Hikers enjoy the view from the top of Grandfather. Trails within the Grandfather Mountain attraction are open and in good condition. Photo by Hugh Morton

By Joseph Wiswell

             Those looking to hike at Grandfather Mountain in the next couple of days you may be in for a rough time. This week’s heavy rain has led to Grandfather Mountain State Park closing many of its trails. Overflowing creek crossings led to the entire backcountry trail system being closed Thursday, May 31, though sections of it are expected to reopen soon.

            On the N.C. Highway 105 side of the mountain, overflowing streams have made creek crossings dangerous, and led to the temporary closure of the Profile Trail.

            Coming from the Blue Ridge Parkway side is even messier, with the Nuwati and Cragway trails having been particularly hard hit by the rains. These trails are expected to remain closed for the next several weeks as State Park crews assess damage, repair eroded sections, and clear debris. The campsites along those trails will also remain closed. Other trails have suffered some damage but are expected to reopen in the next couple of days.

Also off the Blue Ridge Parkway, this week’s rains have seen the closure of the footbridge on the Grandfather Mountain section of the Boone Fork Trail. This limits parking for the trails on the backside of the mountain to the Boulder Field Overlook, a low capacity parking area.

            Despite these closures, once stream levels have gone down and the creek-crossings are safe it will still be possible to get all the way up and over the mountain, from N.C. 105 to the Parkway.

At this time there is no precise timeline for returning the trails to normal. Superintendent of the park Sue McBean said on Thursday that everyone was “very unsure” at the park. However, she promised that the Park Service was working hard to assess the damage and would reopen many of the trails, including the Profile Trail, as soon as it is safe.

            Those seeking a bit more civilization in their adventures will be happy to hear that the Grandfather Mountain Attraction Area is fully open, with the zoo, the swinging bridge and other attractions seeing little damage.

The only interruption for the Attraction Area is the road closure of U.S. Highway 221 just north of the Grandfather Mountain entrance. That road is expected to remain out of commission for a few weeks. This means that visitors from Boone and Blowing Rock will need to detour onto N.C. Highway 105 South into Linville before taking U.S. 221 North to the main entrance.

            While all of these closures might make hikers sad, it is not all bad news for the trails out at Grandfather Mountain. Anyone who has hiked the Profile Trail in the past few years–and parked in the tiny gravel parking lot off of N.C. Highway 105–will be heartened by the new Profile Trail parking lot, a luxurious 100-plus car lot with a bathroom facility that opened late last summer. The old parking lot was infamous for overflowing, forcing people to either turn around and go elsewhere or park on the side of the busy Highway 105. The new facility provides a safe place to park, and adds a short section of easy, rolling trail to the hike.

            In other words, while conditions out at the Grandfather Mountain trails are currently a bit messy, this summer promises to make the hiking better and safer than ever!

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