A Nature Lover’s Dream | Grandfather Mountain | RTX Traveler Magazine

A nature lover’s dream come true, Grandfather Mountain offers a variety of hiking trails, an animal habitat, nature museum and scenic vistas that stretch for miles.

Mile High Swinging Bridge

THE MOUNTAIN

A scenic travel attraction, Grandfather Mountain sits at 5,964 feet above sea level making it one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Linville, the mountain is listed as an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations and consists of a nature museum, animal habitat and 12 miles of alpine hiking trails.

Grandfather Mountain obtained its name when pioneers noted that the profile of the mountain’s north face resembled that of an old man looking skyward. It is these same rugged boulders that form the profile that also harbor an abundance of rare wildlife and vegetation.

Visitors to the park access the mountain via a scenic two lane road that offers multiple overlooks and more than 100 picnic tables along the way to the nature museum and visitor’s center.

A stop at the nature museum reveals exhibits about the natural history of the region, a theater which shows nature movies made on the mountain and a gift shop with a restaurant.

Kidfest_2While at the museum be sure to sign up for one of the many tours available. Guided by naturalists, different educational programs are offered each day of the week with topics ranging from wildflowers to owls.

Directly adjacent to the museum is the mountain’s animal habitat which includes black bears, otters, mountain lions, deer and bald eagles. Sign up at the museum for a behind the scenes feeding and get up close and personal with some of the animals as they dine.

Located a short drive past the habitat is the park’s main attraction, the 228-foot world famous Mile High Swinging Bridge. Aptly named due to the structure’s elevation above sea level and its tendency to sway in high winds, the suspension bridge carries visitors across an 80-foot chasm to Linville Peak, a large boulder that offers nearly a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains.

The bridge’s parking lot is also the starting point for some of Grandfather Mountain’s best hiking trails. With nearly 12 miles of beginner and advanced Alpine trails that trek visitors through 16 distinct ecosystems the mountain is a hiker’s paradise.

One hike to not miss is the MacRae Peak trail that takes the adventurous high above the swinging bridge as they traverse cables and ladders clinging to cliff faces. The reward at the end is a 360 degree view from atop MacRae Peak that provides endless views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

01- Grandfather Mountain Highland Games July 10-13, 2008HIGHLAND GAMES

When: July 10-13, 2014

Easily considered to be one of the largest gatherings of Scottish Clans outside of Scotland, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games will be celebrating its 59th year in 2014. Held at the base of the mountain in MacRae Meadow, the four day event draws athletes from miles around (even Scotland) to compete in ancient Scottish sports such as the caber toss.

The event also includes sheep herding demonstrations, live Celtic music, Highland dancing performances and of course authentic Scottish food vendors. Be sure to plan ahead as nearly 30,000 festival goers attend each year.

FUN FACTS

  • Rock formations on Grandfather date back 1.2 billion years. Grandfather as a geological feature (the mountain itself) is 730 million years old.
  • The Mile High Swinging Bridge was dedicated and Grandfather Mountain opened as a scenic travel attraction in 1952. The bridge was rebuilt in 1999 using the original towers. The cables, floor boards and side rails were all replaced using galvanized steel.
  • From 1975-1987 hang gliders soared from the ridge line of the mountain every day.
  • The only eco-friendly fudge shop in the world is located at the visitors’ center at the top of the mountain.
  • The average high temperature during June, July and August is only 68 degrees.

 CONTACT

2050 Blowing Rock Highway
Linville, NC 28646
(800) 468-7325
www.grandfather.com

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