Grandfather Mountain

The famous mile high swing bridge at Grandfather Mountain

One of the most unique landscapes in North Carolina will take you over 5,000 feet above sea level. Grandfather Mountain, which at 5,946 is one of the higher peaks east of the Mississippi, has a number of different attractions to go along with its unique history.  Grandfather Mountain was mistakenly considered as the highest in North America by a French botanist named Andre Michaux in 1794.  Two nearby peaks Roan and Mount Mitchell both crest over 6000 feet. And of course the Rockies weren't well known if at all then.

In the 1800's, the MacRae family gained controlling interest in the Linville Improvement Company which include Grandfather Mountain.  In 1952, the Linville Improvement Company dissolved and Hugh MacRae Morton became sole owner of Grandfather Mountain.  Over the years, Morton invested in numerous improvements to Grandfather Mountain.  The swinging bridge opened shortly thereafter.  In the late 60s, Morton acquired two bears with the intention to returning them into the wild.  The female bear, known as Mildred, refused and overtime a wildelife habitat was built for her and expanded for numerous other wildlife. (1)

Morton passed in 2006. Since then, over 2400 acres of Grandfather Mountain's "backcountry" was purchased by the State of North Carolina and made into a State Park.  Grandfather Mountain State Park is home to numerous miles of hiking trails, backpaking and camping.  Access is available at points along the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC 105, and within the private park itself.

Grandfather Mountain as viewed from the Blue Ridge Parkway
The private operation side of the park contains the swinging bridge, wildlife preserve, and nature museum and is accessible via US 221.  In 2009, Morton's heirs transferred the private operations of the park to the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.  GNSF is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and conservation of the surroundings.

View towards the Blue Ridge Parkway from Grandfather Mountain.
I visited Grandfather Mountain in the Spring of 2008.  It is an awe-inspiring location and the views are spectacular.  As our family gets older, I can't wait to take our two sons there so they can discover and explore this great natural wonder in our home state.

Sources & Links:
All photos taken April 20, 2008 by author.


Popular Posts