Peaks of Grandfather Mountain
ElevationAscent: 2,827' 862 m
Descent: -2,827' -862 m
High: 5,889' 1,795 m
Low: 3,832' 1,168 m
GradeAvg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 82% (39°)
Popular hikes nearby
1.1 mi 1.8 km • Out and Back • 337 ft Ascent 102.65 m Ascent
China Creek / Thunderhole Loop
6.7 mi 10.7 km • Loop • 1,922 ft Ascent 585.95 m Ascent
7.4 mi 11.8 km • Loop • 1,648 ft Ascent 502.35 m Ascent
Fonta Flora Trail Loop
6.9 mi 11.0 km • Loop • 427 ft Ascent 130.07 m Ascent
Coon Den Falls and Appalachian Trail Loop
3.6 mi 5.8 km • Loop • 1,008 ft Ascent 307.14 m Ascent
11.7 mi 18.8 km • Out and Back • 3,651 ft Ascent 1112.72 m Ascent
Navigate on-trail with our free app
“Experience Grandfather Mountain's two magnificent peaks.”— J.D. McNoldy
From this point on, the trail gets even steeper as you work you way past Profile View and onto Shanty Springs around 2.5 miles in. Shanty Springs usually has running spring water year round. The Springs area is well shaded and always feels a little cooler than the rest of the hike. From Shanty Springs, you'll head to the intersection with the Grandfather Mountain Trail. This is the steepest part of the Profile Trail consisting almost totally of rock stairs and obstacles.
Now that you're at the intersection of the Profile Trail and the Grandfather Trail you have two choices: bear right to summit MacRae Peak first or left for Calloway Peak first. MacRae is the longer and harder of the two options. For this description I'm going to describe doing both, starting with MacRae.
From the intersection heading to MacRae Peak, you'll climb up and down along the ridgeline of Grandfather Mountain. The hike to the peak has ladders, rope-assisted climbs, and areas of exposure. At the intersection of the Grandfather Trail and the Underwood Trail, stay left on Grandfather Trail. The hardest part of the trek is a steep ~200 foot notch that has to be climbed down right before the peak. After a little more climbing, you'll reach the final ladder that takes you to the peak. Atop MacRae Peak, at 5844 feet you get un-obstructed 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains. On the peak there are usually some very opportunistic Dark Eyed Junco birds that are looking for your snack crumbs.
Once you have taken in MacRae Peak you'll head back to the intersection of the Grandfather Trail and the Profile Trail.
From here you'll take a short hike to the top of Calloway Peak. After the hike to MacRae this will feel like a piece of cake. The hike to the peak is much easier than MacRae and only has a couple ladders. Atop Calloway, you can take in the view at Grandfather Mountain's tallest peak at 5946 feet.
From here you'll descend 2000 feet back to the parking lot via the Profile Trail.
Hiked this trail?
We need help with the following missing trail information:
Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, History & Background
Land Manager: North Carolina State Parks: Grandfather Mountain