The Old Man is the Mountain
Linville Travel Blog› entry 52 of 62 › view all entries
Today was destined to be a leisurely ramble exploring local surroundings. Things got off on a bit more leisurely footing than anticipated, however, as I made for Grandfather Mountain. The handy ‘local attractions’ map I nabbed from the hotel lobby was clearly marked “not drawn to scale,” but my goal looked to be no more than five or ten miles away, granting generous variability. All I had to do was catch route 221 heading west.
Grandfather Mountain tapers off at an elevation just below 6,000 feet, making it one of the highest peaks in North Carolina, the Appalachian Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains (the Blue Ridge Mountains are technically a “province” of the Appalachians). Privately owned and operated as a tourist destination for many years, Grandfather Mountain was only purchased by the state of North Carolina and made a state park in 2008.
But first I had to get there. The park opens at 9AM and I hit the road at 8:40, confident of being among the day’s first entrants. After forty minutes of navigating steeply pitched, twisty roads I finally pulled over to reconnoiter. Turns out the park was seventeen miles away, a journey extended by perilous roads and a 35 MPH speed limit. When I finally decided to get serious about pinning down the location I was within a mile of the entrance, of course.
It would be a fun day of exploration, reviewed below. One cautionary note though. Due to its towering elevation, Grandfather Mountain has a reputation for extreme weather. Though I did not deal with anything monstrous, my time here did reinforce the need to be prepared. At a minimum you will experience several different climates as you ascend. Weather for my visit was a ping pong match of clear sunny skies and cold, sometimes drenching rain. Make sure you pack rain gear and layer clothing for enjoying this beautiful state park.