by Catherine Morton
Grandfather Mountain is owned by Grandfather Mountain, Inc., 2050 Blowing Rock Highway, Linville, NC 28646, phones: (ticket gate) 828-733-4337, (toll free) 800-468-7325, (naturalist) 828-733-4326. It is located in Avery, Caldwell, and Watauga Counties
Grandfather Mountain is among the tallest peaks in the Blue Ridge and a nature sanctuary of global importance. Biologically speaking, the mountain is actually an island. When the ice cap retreated, northern species clung to its higher elevations while southern species regarded the neighborhood as a northern boundary.
Dramatic variations in elevation, topography, soils, weather and climate create conditions that support 16 distinct natural communities that are home to 70 rare and endangered species, including 29 that are globally imperiled. At least 118 species of nesting birds have been recorded here and many more migrate through each year.
The most convenient place to see birds is on the feeders outside the windows of the Nature Museum, but for the greatest variety of species consider the Profile Trail. The path gains 1,500 feet over three miles, taking birders through seven different ecological communities on its way to the ridge. Each habitat type supports different bird species, making this one of the best birding trails in the Southern Appalachians.
Species of Interest
Peregrine Falcon, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Canada Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Red Crossbill
spruce-fir forest, northern hardwood/cove forest, rocky outcrop, early successional
Access & Parking
Grandfather Mountain is open year-round. Seasonal hours are: Spring 8am to 6pm; Summer 8am to 7pm; Fall 8am to 6pm; Winter 9am to 5pm. Ticket sales end one hour before closing. One ticket price (Adults $15, Seniors $13) covers access to the entire mountain for the day, including 12 miles of trails into the mountain's wilderness backcountry. Check the Website for details.
From Linville, travel north on US 221 for 2 miles. The entrance to Grandfather Mountain is on the left. Grandfather Mountain can also be accessed from Milepost 305 off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Official web site