Profile Trail

At A Glance

Most Difficult

3.3 mi one-way

Difficulty Rating: 7.66
Steepness: Climbs Steeply
Tread Condition: Moderately Rough
Lowest Elevation: 3800 ft
Highest Elevation: 5675 ft
Climb Total: 2100 ft
Blaze Color: Red with hiker symbol
Hikes That Use This Trail: Grandfather's Profile


Probably the best way to "summit" Grandfather Mountain is via this fantastic trail, and I believe it's one of the finest trails in the state. The trail first winds through lush mid-altitude cove hardwood forests, with a few stream crossings and scenic cascades, one of which near the start is on a sturdy bridge. It climbs moderately at first and more steeply higher up, with many switchbacks. Sections created by master trailbuilders are laid from massive, flat stones arranged in stair-step fashion. The trail passes several views (both up and down), including one of the old man's "profile" which gave rise to the mountain's name. There are lots of big trees, rock features, and good water at Shanty Spring. Beyond that point it shoots straight up the mountain, gets very steep and rocky and transitions into the spruce-fir forest zone closer to the summit. The trail is generally well signed and blazed.

This trail is part of the Grandfather's Profile hike; see the hike description for more trail details.

Intersecting Trails

  • Grandfather
  • This trail is located in the Grandfather Mountain State Park area. For a list of all the trails in that area, see the Grandfather Mountain State Park trails list page.

    All Photos from the Trail

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    GPS Map

    Map Information

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    Data Formats

    KML (Google Earth)

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    About the Map


    Base Layers

    Base layers provided by OpenStreetMap, the US Geological Survey, the US Forest Service, and NC OneMap. Base layer images are subject to the respective copyright policies of their owners. Base layers may not be available at all times due to system maintenance or outages.

    WNCOutdoors Base Layer

    The WNCOutdoors Base layer is provided by It is licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

    Trail and Marker Overlays

    Trail layers and downloadable data are all original works created by WNCOutdoors with guidance from a variety of sources, including ensembles of our own GPS tracks, user contributed GPS tracks, official maps and GIS data from government agencies, and field observations. WNCOutdoors data is made freely available under the Open Database License - you are free to copy and use it for any purpose under the terms of that license (summary).


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    Trail Segments

    Trails are often made up of several connecting paths which may have different characteristics, allowed uses, and seasons. This trail is divided into multiple segments as follows:

    Profile - Parking to Old Trail

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.78 mi

    Profile - Along Watauga River

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.13 mi

    Profile - Watauga River to Foscoe View

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.72 mi

    Profile - Foscoe View to Profile Campsite

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.86 mi

    Profile - Profile Campsite to Profile View

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.24 mi

    Profile - Profile View to Shanty Spring

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.36 mi

    Profile - Shanty Spring to Grandfather Tr

    • Allowed Uses: Hiking
    • Length: 0.25 mi

    Total Calculated Length: 3.34 mi

    This value is derived from our underlying map data, and it may not match officially published information.



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