Grandfather Mountain

The name Grandfather Mountain may sound old, but the area is vibrant with a variety of experiences. The fun begins immediately as visitors receive an auto tour cd upon entering the park. Pop in the cd and immediately, you’re immersed in the history that appears at every turn.

With a movie highlighting the area, restaurant, fudge shop, and animal encounters, the first visitor center has plenty to do. My favorites were the animals and animal feedings. If you get a chance, definitely check out the bear feeding which provides an opportunity to view the black bears up close and yet safely.

The drive up to the next visitor center via the narrow, winding road, is not for the faint of heart, but provides stunning views along the way. For those wishing to forego the final steep ascent to the visitor center, there is a lower parking lot with a short, scenic hiking trail that leads to the visitor center.

The second visitor center at the top of the mountain is less commercial, but provides more outdoor activities via hiking trails, the mile high suspension bridge (mile high in elevation, not from the ground), and plenty of unencumbered views.

One day was hardly enough to scratch the surface. I could see easily spending more time fully exploring the area. For all the pertinent details go here: www.grandfather.com

World’s Edge hike

As we drove through the rolling hills dotted with apple trees and the occasional farm, the scenery did not lend itself to a hike named World’s Edge.  Usually when you’re driving to a hike named like that, the road is steep, the views are panoramic and the anticipation builds.

The paved road ended at a private property sign so we parked and walked the dirt road to the left. A little ways in, the road had a vehicle gate and a Carolina Parks sign, so we knew we were in the right place. 

Continuing on, the area still looked like a normal hike in the woods.  Unlike yesterday which was rainy and cold, today was the perfect day for a hike; deep blue, cloudless sky, warm sun, and a slight chill in the air to keep the temps perfect.

About four tenths of a mile in, the road makes a small loop to the right. This loop takes you right to the edge of a ridge. Wow!! What a view of the area!  We could look straight down and see the forest below or look out across the vast expanse and see homes, lakes, and an occasional town. The name World’s Edge made total sense now.

Here there are two options; follow a path along the ridge, or return to the road and follow the trail.  Other hikers were enjoying the ridge path so we returned the trail to see what else we’d encounter.

Even though we weren’t walking on the edge, we still enjoyed great views of the mountains to the left. I use the term ridge, but it’s not like Everest or other tall mountains were you’re straddling a drop off on both sides. This is “just” the edge of a mountain so you have plenty of space on one side. The “edge of the world” side, is where the mountain drops off

Continuing along we enjoyed the views of the mountains to our left and the beautiful cloudless day. Occasionally we’d take one of the access points to the ridge and enjoy the view again.

The final stop, for us, was a large rock outcropping that appeared to be balanced right on the edge. It was an optical illusion, but made for some fun pictures. The warm sun and expansive view made it another one of those memorable places. I am fortunate to  keep finding those places, often unexpectedly. All the more reason to keep exploring.

The total hike is about 1.5 miles round trip so it’s and is an easy one. You don’t need special gear or endurance; it’s just a nice easy walk and I’d recommend bringing a picnic lunch. Stay awhile and enjoy the view.

More details on the hike are here:  http://www.carolinamountain.org/hikingchallenge2/worldsedge

The hike is part of the famous White Squirrel Patch. You know you want one and details can be found here: http://www.carolinamountain.org/hikingchallenge2