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Underwood Trail



0.5 mile 0.8 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 287' 88 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 5,663' 1,726 m
Low: 5,375' 1,638 m


Avg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 50% (26°)


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Trail shared by David McCormick

This alternate route on McRae Peak skips some of the strenuous aspects of the Grandfather Trail.

David McCormick

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Please note that while this trail is located within Grandfather Mountain State Park, which has free admission, access to the trail is easiest via the Grandfather Mountain Recreation Area, which is private and charges $20/person to enter. Rangers from GMRA patrol the trails, and if you have parked in their parking lot, they request that you return to your car by 6PM.


The Underwood Trail is a short trail leading off of the Grandfather Trail to the saddle between Attic Window Peak and McRae Peak. Access is via the Grandfather Trail, where the Underwood Trail separates from this trail approximately 0.5 miles from the start.

The trail starts as a relatively flat hike through a mature hardwood forest with some scrambling over roots and rocks. If it has recently rained, the trail will be muddy and the granite can be quite slick.

After approximately 0.2 miles, you'll reach a ladder (40 feet tall) to help you scramble up over a large rock ledge. After climbing the ladder, the trail becomes noticeably steeper with few switchbacks until reaching the saddle between the peaks. There is one section with a cable-assisted scramble up a granite ledge; this is very slippery after rain and covered with moss, so use caution.

This trail is often less crowded than Grandfather Trail, and if you have a fear of heights there are fewer ladders, cable climbs, and less alpine exposure on ridgelines. It makes for a good alternative route back from McRae Peak or the Attic Window as you can avoid the sometimes long waits on ladders on the Grandfather Trail.

Flora & Fauna

Old-growth North Carolina forest and rhododendrons are prevalent here. Bears are often sighted in the area, so use bear precautions.

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed


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Jul 27, 2019
Kevin Tomas
Jun 1, 2019
Eason Bryan
Lots of very steep and rocky terrain 1mi
Oct 6, 2018
Ashli Youngblood
Apr 3, 2018
Jon Robinson
Aug 16, 2017
Chris McCloud
Done as part of Grandfather Mountain loop (return leg for sake of time) during BRP trip 2017. Not quite as intense as Grandfather Trail.
Jul 29, 2017
David McCormick

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 4 votes


  4.0 from 4 votes
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in North Carolina


15 Views Last Month
1,094 Since Aug 1, 2017



Looking out onto the high country from one of many ladders on the trail.
Jul 31, 2017 near Linville, NC
A rewarding, expansive view along the Underwood Trail.
Aug 1, 2017 near Linville, NC
Scrambling up a rock outcrop on the Grandfather Trail.
Aug 1, 2017 near Linville, NC
Using the anchored cables on the Grandfather Trail.
Aug 1, 2017 near Linville, NC


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