Special Programs with the Mountain’s Naturalists
Grandfather Mountain’s naturalists will lead your family on a wildflower walk, take you on a guided tour of the animal habitats, or lead you on a hike across Grandfather’s rugged peaks to share insights and information that will make your visit even more entertaining and memorable. Click here for more information on the many interesting programs the naturalists can arrange for your visit.
Behind the Scenes Habitat Tours
See where the cougars and otters sleep overnight, meet black bears that are not regularly on display and learn the ins and outs of what it takes to care for the animals year-round. Group sizes range from 2-6 people. There is no minimum age limit, but small children must be carried if they are not capable of walking on their own.
Click here to learn how to plan for your Behind the Scenes tour!
Animal Birthday Party & Kidfest
Special days for celebrating kids and nature through fun and entertaining activities. The animal birthday party is held in June (June 18, 2014) and Kidfest is in September (Sept. 6, 2014). Includes games, nature presentations, encounter with live hawks and owls, staff on hand to answer questions in the animal habitats, face painting, storytelling and mountain music.
Junior Ranger Activities
The Grandfather Mountain rangers developed a short group of questions that kids can answers while they visit the different areas of the park. The activities include a scavenger hunt through the Nature Museum and a quiz about the animals in the Environmental Habitats.
Pick up the activity booklet from the Junior Ranger display located beside the paved path as you start down to the animal habitat area. Each child who returns a completed booklet to the Entrance gate before departing will receive a Grandfather Mountain Junior Ranger button.
The Split Rock & Sphinx Rock
Everyone loves these huge, 1-billion-year-old rocks! These two house-sized boulders are located beside the summit road about 3/4 mile up the Mountain before the Nature Museum.
Meet The Wood Carver
Tom Wolfe is one of America’s preeminent carvers of caricature figurines, and your family can watch him work when you visit his shop located next to the Woods Walk in the Grandfather Mountain picnic area. Tom is on site from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. most days during the late spring, summer and fall, weather permitting. Stop in to hear his stories and to see his charming characters take shape.
The Woods Walk
Circumscribing the attraction’s picnic area on the lower slopes of the mountain, the Woods Walk offers families a leisurely 4/10-mile loop through mature Appalachian forest. With very gradual grades and wide paths, the Woods Walk will appeal to guests who are looking for a casual encounter with nature. At least 64 different flower and plant species grow at trailside, as well as 19 tree types.
The Bridge Trail
Beginning at Hiker Parking Area, the Bridge Trail moves quickly into a natural area where families can walk through red and white rhododendron, galax, red spruce, Fraser fir, and yellow birch. Four-tenths of a mile in length, the trail switchbacks up the mountain, traveling under the Swinging Bridge before ending at the Top Shop Visitor Center. There are some massive outcroppings of rock on this trail. Allow 20 minutes each way.
The Black Rock Nature Trail
The Black Rock Nature Trail begins at the Hiker Parking Area and slopes out gradually to a wide angle view of the Swinging Bridge, MacRae and Attic Window Peaks, as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway and Grandmother Mountain to the southwest. The trail runs out a mile through northern hardwood and spruce forests and, most any time of year, through neighborhoods of songbirds. An easily accessed self-guided nature trail, a dozen interpretive signs are posted along the route to explain interesting facts about the natural world around you. Allow 1 hour round trip.