Grandfather Mountain State Park Office Opens September 18
Public Invited To Celebrate
While its Mile High Swinging Bridge attraction will remain in private hands, in 2008, 2,500 acres of Grandfather Mountain officially became a North Carolina state park.
Next Sunday, September 18, between the hours of 2:00 and 6:00 p.m., state officials—and the general public—will officially celebrate the grand opening of the new park office, located at 9872 N.C. 105 South in Grandfather View Village.
With acreage commonly known as the backcountry of Grandfather Mountain, the new state park fulfills one of the dreams of Hugh Morton—its founder as a commercial enterprise—in that it provides safekeeping for the mountain’s continued preservation.
Its acquisition as Grandfather Mountain State Park was arranged with the assistance of both The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund, with the site being financed through N.C. Parks and Recreation and the Natural Heritage Trust Fund.
“This is a chance for the public to meet the state park rangers, to ask questions about the park and to see what we have been doing since its opening,” explained Sue McBean, superintendent of Grandfather Mountain State Park.
Fun events for the entire family include turtle tag, animal tracks games and fish facts games.
“Our interns will be on hand to show off what their projects are all about,” McBean said. “The newly formed Friends of High Country State Parks will also be here to talk about their organization, and hands-on air awareness events are planned.”
The team that now oversees the Grandfather Mountain State Park includes McBean, park superintendent; Andy Sicard, park ranger; Luke Appling, park ranger; Nick Bovino, park technician; Ian Willms, general utility worker; and Dylan Philyaw, intern.
Grandfather Mountain’s scenic trail system, known nationally for its vistas and challenges, is among the finest in Eastern North America.
While access to the state park is now free to hikers and campers, there are only three points from which trail hikers and campers may enter Grandfather Mountain State Park: the west side, which is the trailhead of the Profile Trail, near the intersection of N.C. 105 and NC 184, in Banner Elk; the east side, at the Boone Fork parking area at Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 299.9; and near the Grandfather Mountain attraction’s parking facility just below its summit, where two backcountry connector trails are located. Parking in this lot requires payment of the attraction’s standard fees.
“The state park owns and operates 2,500 acres of the mountain, which includes 11 miles of trails and 13 backcountry campsites,” said McBean. “The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation owns and operates the Mile High Swinging Bridge and associated retail operations; they now have a nonprofit status but remain private and are not part of Grandfather Mountain State Park."
Trails within the state park include the Grandfather Trail (2.5 miles, strenuous); the Grandfather Extension Trail (0.6 miles, moderate); the Underwood Trail (0.5 miles, strenuous); the Profile Trail (3.1 miles, strenuous); the Daniel Boone Scout Trail (3.0 miles, moderate); and the Nuwati Trail (1.2 miles, easy).
While hiking and camping at the Grandfather Mountain State Park is free, users of the wilderness facility must register and carry a valid permit, which may be obtained at the Profile Trail trailhead parking area.
“Hikers and community members have been very positive regarding the state park, and we have had good response to volunteer work days,” added McBean. “As we grow, we will offer more educational opportunities for the community, both in the park and as outreach programs. We look forward to meeting and talking with people on September 18, as well as those we meet every day on the trail.”
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, click to www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/grmo/main.php or call 828-963-9522.