As temperatures warm up in the state and southeast region of the country, many outdoor enthusiasts look to the hills for hiking opportunities. While the months of February, March and April can be enjoyable times of the year to hike in the High Country, hikers need to be aware that they might encounter unexpected snow and ice on the upper elevations of trails.
All of the trails inside the Grandfather Mountain nature park have been closed for most of the winter. Trail Ranger Amber Mowery has recently opened the Woods Walk, Bridge Trail, and Black Rock Nature Trail. The Grandfather Extension Trail still remains closed as does the Grandfather Trail from the nature park to Attic Window.
In Grandfather Mountain State Park, the Profile Trail and Daniel Boone Scout Trail are open. The Grandfather Trail is open from Attic Window to Calloway Peak. “We still have significant snow above 4,500 feet on the trails,” said Grandfather Mountain State Park Superintendent Sue McBean. “There’s also ice and snow on the ridgeline creating hazardous conditions.”
Temperatures must also be taken into special consideration this time of year. Warmer temperatures at low elevation trailheads can be deceiving to hikers. It is not uncommon for temperatures at the highest elevations of Grandfather to be at or below the freezing mark with even colder wind chills. Dressing in layers for a hike is a must as well as packing a hat, gloves and warm socks.
While ice and snow can be expected at the higher trail elevations on Grandfather Mountain, hikers are encountering mud and high creek crossings on lower sections of the trails.
The warmer temperatures have also brought some bears out of their dens. The Refuge Campsite on the Nuwati Trail is closed right now due to bear activity. Campers in the state park must hang all food and substances with strong scent.
Also, campfires are not allowed at all at this time. High winds and dry air has caused the state of North Carolina to put a ban on all outdoor fires.
Up-to-date trail information for Grandfather Mountain State Park can be found at www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/grmo/main.php or by calling 828-737-9522. Information on the trails inside the Grandfather Mountain nature park can be obtained at 828-737-0833.
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