The 88-mile stretch of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Grandfather Mountain area north to Stone Mountain has several memorable stretches. A favorite is this nearly 8-mile run that traces the base of Grandfather Mountain between the Beacon Heights and Boone Fork parking areas along the parkway. Like the mountain above, this is a rugged, rocky section made easily passable by a good trail. A highlight is the exposed stretch on Rough Ridge, a fragile, alpine environment rich with 360-degree views. This stretch begins (Beacon Heights) and ends (Boone Fork) at established pull-out parking areas with ample space. A taste of the rugged Grandfather Mountain experience minus the high-altitude exposure that results in unpredictable weather no matter what time of year you hike.

Maps: “Trails Illustrated: Linville Gorge/Mountain Mitchell, Pisgah Ranger District”; USGS: Grandfather Mountain.

Map of trailhead here.
View 20 Classic North Carolina Hikes: Tanawha Trail in a larger map



Location: Blue Ridge Parkway, base of Grandfather Mountain between Beacon Heights to Boone Fork Parking Area
Nearest town: Linville Falls
Latitude: N36 05.020
Longitude: W81 49.737
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 7.9 miles
Loop/one-way: One-way.
Time to complete: 3-5 hours