North Carolina is one of our favorite states. There is so much to see and do in the Tar Heel State that you couldn’t explore it all in a year if you never took a day off. From beautiful forests and mountains that are home to a wide variety of wildlife, to spectacular beaches, historic battlefields, interesting museums, antebellum plantations, and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, North Carolina has it all!
Among North Carolina’s many scenic wonders, one that stands out is Grandfather Mountain, near Linville. Part of Grandfather Mountain State Park, the spectacular mountain tops out at almost 6,000 feet and offers visitors views of the surrounding countryside they won’t forget. The park is home to all kinds of wildlife including bald eagles, deer, raccoons, and even bears and cougars. With 2,456 acres of rugged backcountry, the park is loved by hikers. Trails in the park range from the “easy” Nuwati Trail, which goes to Storyteller’s Rock and offers views of Boone Bowl and Calloway Peak, to the strenuous Daniel Boone Scout Trail, which climbs some 2,000 feet in three miles.
The separate 720-acre Grandfather Mountain Attraction, administered by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, borders on the state park and is home to the Mile High Swinging Bridge, America’s highest suspension footbridge.
The term “mile high” refers to the bridge’s elevation above sea level and “swinging” refers to the fact that suspension bridges are built to sway with the wind. The 228 foot long bridge stretches across an 80 foot gorge and offers an amazing 360 degree view. Visitors consider a trip across the bridge to be the most memorable part of a visit to Grandfather Mountain.
Built in 1952 at an original cost of $15,000, the bridge was created to give visitors easy access to the view from Grandfather Mountain’s Linville Peak. The bridge sections were fabricated in Greensboro, North Carolina and then were assembled on top of the mountain. It took three weeks to complete the job because work was slowed due to bad weather caused by a hurricane off the North Carolina coast.
In 1999 the bridge was rebuilt, using its original towers. Everything else; its cables, floor boards, and side rails, were all replaced using galvanized steel. A major advantage of the modern building materials is that they do not have to be painted, which means Grandfather Mountain employees will no longer have to hang over the side to paint it. I’m not sure how much they were paid to do that job, but it wasn’t enough!
Black Rock Trail, accessible from the attraction’s parking lot, gives visitors views of the famous swinging bridge. The Top Shop provides elevator access to the Mile High Swinging Bridge, making the span accessible to people with disabilities for the first time. It is only 50 yards from the building to the bridge, and there is a bench near the bridge for those needing a comfortable place to rest.
The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation was created to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand, and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. All proceeds from sales of tickets and souvenirs go toward caring for and preserving the Grandfather Mountain Attraction. Located at 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, just outside of Linville, it is open year round. Hours are 9 am – 6 pm in the spring, 8 am – 7 pm in the summer, 9 am – 7 p.m. in the fall, and 9 am – 5 pm in the winter, weather permitting.
Admission is $20 for adults age 13-59, $18 for seniors 60+, and $9 for children age 4-12. Children age 4 and under are free. Discount rates are available for groups of 20 or more when booked in advance. Guests at the attraction can access the State Park trail system from the Swinging Bridge. Free admission to Grandfather Mountain State Park trails is also available from locations outside of the attraction.
For more information on the Grandfather Mountain attraction and the Mile High Swinging Bridge, call (800) 468-7325 or visit their website at www.grandfather.com. For information on Grandfather Mountain State Park, call (828) 963-9522 or visit their website at https://www.ncparks.gov/grandfather-mountain-state-park
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Thought For The Day – Only ever look in someone else’s bowl to make sure they have enough, not to check that you have as much.