Hike the Tanawha Trail

by Phill Baldwin:

The Tanawha Trail, stretching 13.5 miles from Julian Price Park to Beacon Heights, parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway on Grandfather Mountain. Tanawha, the Cherokee word for fabulous hawk or eagle, is an appropriate name for this trail that offers hikers spectacular views of the surrounding mountain landscape.

Completed in 1993, the Tanawha Trail, like the final section of the parkway it mirrors, is unique in its construction. The trail traverses a fragile and ancient ecosystem and leads hikers through a surprising range of biological and geological terrains. Some sections tunnel through thickets of laurel and rhododendron. Others dip down into remote hardwood coves and then ascend into evergreen glens. Boulder fields and cascading streams are also dotted along the length of the trail.

Sections above the Linn Cove Viaduct and along Rough Ridge are strenuous, but overall the trail is an easy to moderate hike. The many accesses from the parkway let hikers choose as long a section as they like.

To preserve this delicate and beautiful area, stay on designated paths, bridges and boardwalks.

Grab some gear, supplies, and good company… and go check it out!