Date of Adventure: Multiple visits
Type of Adventure: Hiking
Total Distance Hiked: 1.0 mile (to some awesome views)
Location: Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain
If you are on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain and have an hour to spare, Rough Ridge is well worth your time. Although the trail goes much further, there are plenty of spectacular views from a ridge of boulders only 1/2 mile from the parking lot.
Parking is at the Rough Ridge Parking Lot (36.098278, -81.797314) on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail up to the ridge is part of the Tanawha Trail. Rough Ridge is actually on the side of Grandfather Mountain, which you will be able to see from the boulders.
The trail will quickly cross a beautiful bridge where you can see back down to the parking lot. If you cross this bridge, you are heading in the right direction.
The trail will climb about 300 feet above the road below in a half mile. The hike is not strenuous by any means, but if you take your time, the average person will not have a problem.
One of the things I loved about this trail, is the majority of the hike you are walking through thick mountain brush and have very little view except for the trail in front of and behind you. Then, near the boulders, the view opens up to hundreds of miles of western North Carolina.
This trail can be fairly crowded on the weekends or when the weather is nice. This trail also seems to be popular with the college students from Appalachian State University, which is only 30 minutes away. The first time I hiked this trail in 2011 I was staying in Boone for my brothers graduation from ASU, and there were several students who went to take in this spectacular view a few hours before they were to walk across the state and receive their degree. What a way to finish college!
Download the GPX or KML of the trip here.
Let us know what you think in the comments section if you get to see it for yourself!