Hiking the Grandfather Ranger District


This district includes lands along the Blue Ridge Escarpment northwest of the Black Mountains, stretching from Interstate 40 in the South to near the town of Blowing Rock in the north. Its borders roughly include Interstate 40 to the South, US Hwy. 70 to the East, US Hwy. 321 to the North, and the Blue Ridge Parkway to the West.

In the southern end of the district, you'll find the Catawba Falls area, a newly accessible piece of property which has been in Forest Service ownership for years but was never legally open to the public. It has two of the region's most significant waterfalls. A new parking area makes the area officially open and highly recommended!

North of that, across I-40, you'll find the Curtis Creek area, which contains the first piece of land east of the Mississippi purchased by the National Forest Service under the authority of the Weeks Act of 1911. This area is now dedicated to Dr. Chase P. Ambler, who was committed to helping preserve these lands and who also built Rattlesnake Lodge, the remains of which can be found alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Asheville. A mountain peak within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park bears his name as well.

Fall color view from Big Lost Cove Cliffs
Fall color view from Big Lost Cove Cliffs, in the Wilson Creek area of the Grandfather Ranger District.

You'll also find excellent trails in the Linville Gorge area, which is the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi river. The heart of the Gorge is a National Forest Wilderness Area. Trails on the rim are less secluded and include spectacular views into the gorge itself.

Further north, the Wilson Creek drainage area is known for its waterfalls. Wilson Creek is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River. These are the three main trailhead areas for this site; although several other creeks and streams drain the Blue Ridge and have trails near them, they will be included in one of the three areas listed above.

Several trails in this District connect with Blue Ridge Parkway property. The district's namesake, Grandfather Mountain, is under private and State ownership (in Grandfather Mountain State Park) and is bordered by National Forest and Blue Ridge Parkway lands. Excellent trails exist on Grandfather Mountain, and they should not be missed.

Choose a trailhead area below to get more information!

Related Pages

Grandfather Ranger District

Pisgah National Forest Districts

Official Information

Route 1, Box 110-A
Nebo, NC 28761

Phone Number:
(828) 652-2144

Exit 90 off I-40 at Nebo/Lake James exit. About 9 miles east of Marion.