Exploring Grandfather Mountain & The Mile High Swinging Bridge

An Adventure with Nick & Rachel

Grandfather Mountain Trail

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Grandfather Mountain and McRae peak in the distanceNick & Rachel

Are you looking for your next adventure? Well, Grandfather Mountain is considered the most technical hike, that doesn’t require climbing gear, east of the Mississippi. It’s also referred to as the “chutes and ladders” trail because there are many spots where you have to use ladders and cables to climb the ridge.

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Ladder sectionNick & Rachel

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Using cables to climbNick & Rachel

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You have to make way for other Climbers on this Trail even on the laddersNick & Rachel

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Rachel taking a breakNick & Rachel

The hike includes some of the best views of the Blueridge Mountains you can get. It is filled with nothing but viewpoints all along the trail. You’ll hike to McRae’s Peak, Attic Window, and Calloway Peak. This trail is not for the faint of heart. It is strenuous.

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Grandfather Mountain fall colorsNick & Rachel

There are multiple routes to access Grandfather Mountain. We took the Grandfather Trail. The Grandfather Trail takes you to Grandfather Mountain’s three peaks: MacRae Peak, Attic Window Peak, and Calloway Peak. All three are within 1.5 miles of each other, but this is an in-and-out trail, so you choose to turn back at any point. All Trails and the Park map say that it is 2.4 miles from the parking lot to Calloway Peak. From what we tracked we do believe it to be longer. Also, be aware that if you decide to turn this into a single-day hike, you will need to be back in time before the parking lot closes. The time changes seasonally, so check at the Visitor Center. When we went in October it closed around 4 pm. There are several primitive camping sites along the trail, so you can do the hike over a couple of days if you prefer, but you’ll need a permit.

You can start your hike at the trails parking area which will add about a little under a half-mile to your hike or you can start at the Mile High Swinging Bridge parking area.

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Mile High Swinging BridgeNick & Rachel

There is a Visitor’s Center up here. Make sure to pick up a map. It is always a good idea to have a paper map with you. I would recommend checking out the Swinging Bridge. It is pretty cool. Across the parking lot from the bridge, you will start your hike to McRae Peak. It will wind through evergreen and rhododendron forest and become pretty rugged requiring you to use some cable assists. When the trail comes to MacRae Peak, you’ll be using cables and ladders to scale the sheer rock face. It is beautiful and exhilarating but if heights are not your thing Underwood Trail (yellow blazes) is an alternative route that goes around the peak. Many choose to climb the ‘chutes and ladders’ trail to the peak and then take the Underwood Trail on the way back. We took this route on our way back down and it is incredibly rocky. After you’ve descended MacRae Peak, Attic Window is just .3 mile beyond. Some hikers chose to turn around after Attic Window, but you can also continue on 1.2 miles to Calloway Peak, the highest of the three at 5964 feet. Again I do think these distances are a little more. From Calloway Peak or at any point you decide to stop, just retrace your steps back to the parking lot. We were unable to reach Calloway Peak on our trip due to the parking lot closing time. We made it a little over halfway there to Alpine Meadow.

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This section was fun!Nick & Rachel

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Alpine Meadow in the distanceNick & Rachel

Just a few reminders/words of caution:

  • Wear good hiking shoes
  • Hiking poles if you like to use them
  • Grab a map from the Visitor’s Center
  • Take plenty of water and snacks
  • The weather is very changeable and windy up here, so that can make for slow going and additional challenges. Pack accordingly.

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Hi! We are Nick and Rachel and together we found our passion for the outdoors. Since starting our channel we found that we enjoy inspiring others to explore and get out in nature while protecting and respecting its natural beauty. With our videos, we hope to immerse you in the adventures we take. Whether it's cooking a meal over a campfire or hiking to a mountain peak and overlooking the beautiful Blueridge Mountains and beyond. We look forward to seeing you on our next adventure! Please like, share, and subscribe. Thank You! If you like this type of content please check out our YouTube Channel: An Adventure With Nick And Rachel The Link Below will take you to all of our social media accounts.

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