Hike the Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain Profile Trailhead

Escape the crowds at Grandfather Mountain. A challenging hike with great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains! 

If you're looking for a challenge and hoping to escape the crowds at Grandfather Mountain, this is the hike for you. 

Climbing up the back side of the mountain (opposite the famed mile-high swinging bridge) this trail is fee-free and easy-to-access with its own parking lot. 

The trail, marked with orange blazes, begins in a shaded forest along the Watauga River. You will begin your ascent just 1/4 mile in as switchbacks carve out the mountainside.

Continuously climbing, the trail offers little level ground to catch your breath. However, there are a number of overlooks that provide great views of Grandfather Mountain (as well as an excuse to stop for water). 

At about 2 miles the trail passes the Profile Campsite (permit required) and wide, stone stairs begin. Further up the trail you'll pass a spring and then begins a VERY steep, rocky, root-filled ascent. Though only about .4 miles, this is the most challenging part of the trail. Hiking poles are strongly recommended as it is easy to slip or lose footing.

At Calloway Gap the Profile Trail meets the Grandfather Trail. Turn left and hike the Grandfather Trail for about .4 miles to Calloway Peak. The final ascent to Calloway Peak requires climbing a few wooden ladders (most only have 3-4 rungs).

Calloway Peak is the tallest of four summits in the Grandfather Mountain area, so you will be rewarded with stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are large, flat rocks at the summit to enjoy some snacks before heading back down. 

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Hiking Poles/Stick (VERY steep in places & tough on the descent)
  • Camera
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RT Distance 6.2 Miles
Elevation Gain 2300 Feet
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Amazing!

This hike had been on my N.C. hiking bucket list for a while and I couldn’t have picked a better day to do it. There was time ice, snow on the peak and absolutely no one at the bridge bc they had it closed due to weather - all in March of last year. So we had the entire place to ourselves. The wind can be pretty brutal, so layers are essential. I’m not sure I would call the trail “dog friendly” because of the numerous ladders. My dog weighs 65lbs and there’s no way I’d be hauling him up there. With stops for snack and lunch at the swinging bridge, we finished the hike in a little over 5 hours.

Winter Wonderland

I did this hike about a week after a decent snow in Boone. Made it a beautiful winter wonderland! I think I had about the prefect week - everything was still covered in snow - not yet slush and ice. Coming back down it started to get a little more slushy. The view at the top is beautiful to see all the layers of mountains! On a clear, dry day, I'm told you can see the Charlotte sky line from Calloway Peak. It's a great way to hike the area while the Blue Ridge Parkway was still closed for snow maintenance. I was taking my time enjoying the snow on my way up and about 3.5 hrs up, about 5 hrs round trip.

Rewarding views!

Just did this hike last weekend. This is a great day hike, with some really rewarding views. Shanty Spring is a nice lunch or snack stop, and is a reliable water source, if you've got a filter. Just before you get to Calloway Peak, be sure to stop off at the Watauga View overlook just .1 mile from the summit. Up at the top of Calloway Peak, the exposed rocky sections of trail and the ladders are really fun, and lead to the best views on the mountain. The hike took us about 4 hours round trip at a pretty comfortable pace.


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