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Profile Trail



3.5 mile 5.7 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,832' 558 m
Descent: -230' -70 m
High: 5,641' 1,719 m
Low: 3,833' 1,168 m


Avg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 85% (40°)


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A beautiful Grandfather Mountain trail that leads into the park from Hwy 105.

J.D. McNoldy

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Closes during inclement winter weather.


The Profile Trail (marked with Orange blazes) begins at 4198 NC Highway 105 N, Banner Elk NC (GPS: 36.119767, -81.835001) and leads to Calloway Gap on The Grandfather Trail (Blue blazes).

You'll begin by working your way along the Watauga River under a thick forest. The first 1 mile is fairly easy on hardpacked dirt and wood steps and is frequented by less adventurous hikers. After about 1 mile the path gets more narrow and you transition to rock steps. Beginning around Foscoe View (approximately 2.2 miles) the climb becomes much more difficult (steep). At 3.2 miles you arrive at Shanty Spring, with your hike transitioning into a trail of tumble-down rock that joins the Grandfather Trail after a strenuous climb of 0.4 miles. You transition out of hardwoods and into Canadian firs. This upper section is very steep and rocky, and when wet it can be quite dangerous.

Around the 2.5 mile mark there are two established backcountry camping spots - at least one with food bag rigging.

Once you have reached the end of Profile Trail you are at a crossroads you can take Grandfather Trail two ways: left to Calloway Peak (0.4 miles), or right to MacRae Peak (approx. 1 mile), and ultimately the Swinging Bridge (2 miles).

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna


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Oct 11, 2019
Brian Hindman
Sep 27, 2019
Grace Erker
7mi — 6h 00m
Sep 12, 2019
Austin Bush
Aug 31, 2019
Mike Patel
Aug 16, 2019
Paul Catlin
Aug 4, 2019
Joshua Robb Layno
One of the toughest hikes/climbs around due to a rolling ascend up to 2 miles then shoots up straight with rocks in the last mile and a half. 4.7mi — 3h 27m
Jul 19, 2019
eric pulaski
with a 30# ruck to Calloway Peak. the GF map printed 12/17 indicates Profile Trail is 3.6, plus 0.4 to Calloway 8mi — 4h 30m
Jun 30, 2019
Phil York
Awesome trail, well maintained, cool boot cleaning station at trailhead. Smooth, steady gradient. Saw a little mole making its way near the trail :) 3.4mi — 1h 20m

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 24 votes


  4.7 from 24 votes
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139 Views Last Month
2,307 Since Jul 23, 2016



View from Foscoe View. Signage (not pictured) identifies the peaks in the distance.
Aug 13, 2018 near Foscoe, NC
Grandfather Mountain in the midst of the early spring foliage (or lack thereof) .
Mar 19, 2019 near Foscoe, NC


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