X
outdoors/hiking hiki

Rough Ridge

Hike the Blue Ridge Parkway's Tanawha Trail to awesome views on Grandfather Mountain's Rough Ridge

Find the trailhead

This hike is on the Grandfather Mountain portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Linville and south of Blowing Rock. Start at either Wilson Creek Overlook (Milepost 303.6) or Rough Ridge Overlook (Milepost 302.8).

Take the hike

The cliff-lined alpine crest of Rough Ridge offers some of the Parkway's most startling vistas. Grandfather Mountain's peaks tower overhead, far above the Piedmont, for a nearly vertical-mile rise, one of the greatest drop-offs of the Blue Ridge escarpment. Mount Mitchell lies on the southern horizon.

Start at Rough Ridge Parking Area on the Tanawha Trail (no pets permitted, even on leash) and scenic boardwalk views are just a 0.3 mile, moderate walk with some steep steps and rocky tread.

Leave the parking area, ascend log steps to a junction, and take the Tanawha Trail left (to the right, it leads to Price Park). Cross an arching wood bridge over a cascade to an often-soggy trail through evergreens and up stone steps. Hiking through blueberry bushes, you'll pass a distinctive stack rock formation on the right as you begin 200 feet of ascending, scenic boardwalk. Stay on the boardwalk, designed to keep hikers from trampling the low, fragile vegetation.

As you're standing on the platforms, the vista engulfs you. From the three loftiest summits of Grandfather Mountain, an expansive chute drops past the Linn Cove Viaduct and Parkway snaking to the south. Far below lie the rippling ridges of Pisgah National Forest. Climbers call the faces below Rough Ridge "Ship Rock," and the crags are among the South's most popular rock-climbing sites (do not throw rocks!).

Hike another 0.3 mile up rocky but nicely graded switchbacks to the top where cable-defined pathways keep people on the paths amid fragile and low-growing mats of Allegheny sand myrtle and the tall white flowers of turkey beard. Hike back to your car for a 1.2 mile hike.

To reach the top from another direction, start at the Wilson Creek Overlook and hike out-and-back to Rough Ridge. Starting at Wilson Creek, take the side trail under the Parkway 0.1 mile and go right on the Tanawha Trail. The trail drops to within sight of the road then gradually climbs though boulder fields with spring wildflowers and towering trees. Stone steps reach the summit of Rough Ridge, just under 1.0 mile from the Wilson Creek Parking Area (about 2.0 miles round-trip).

(For more detail on this or other Boone area trails, pick up a trail guide by local outdoor expert Randy Johnson.)

Dive into our Interactive Map!

Zoom in close on the map below (use the plus/minus signs and directional arrows at upper left), or repeatedly double click near, but not on, the map symbols. You can literally dive down to see the parking lots and landmarks for the Rough Ridge hike. Click any map symbol and information balloons pop up. In the trailhead parking map balloon, click "Directions," add your address or location, and step-by-step directions will guide you to the hike from wherever you are! 

Featured Events

Sep 21

Ghost Train

9/21/18 – 10/27/18
Visit all the frightfully entertaining Halloween attractions, and take a chilling journey through the night on the… more
Sep 21

Night Flight at Sky Valley

9/21/18
Starting in June 2018, the most daring adventurers can zip line under the stars with Night Flight at Sky Valley. This… more
Sep 21

Touchdown Boone

9/21/18
Experience the pre-game options in Boone at the annual Touchdown Boone events. These fun, family-friendly events have… more
Sep 22

App State Football vs. Gardner-Webb

9/22/18
Appalachian State Football vs. Gardner-Webb Heroes Day … more
Sep 28

App State Homecoming -- APPtoberfest

9/28/18
APPtoberfest and Homecoming Street Party (includes live music featuring Weekend Excursion, pep rally, alumni beer… more
Sep 28

App State Homecoming -- Homecoming

9/28/18
Homecoming Parade Date: Friday, September 28 Start Time: 6:00 p.m. Location: Rivers Street and Downtown Boone… more
Sep 29

App State Homecoming -- ASU

9/29/18
Appalachian State Football vs. South Alabama Visit this link for the full Homecoming Schedule, or read… more
Oct 05

Shovels & Rope

10/5/18
Shovels and Rope are an American folk band from Charleston, South Carolina composed of Michael Trent and Cary Ann… more
Oct 13

Oktoberfest at Sugar Mountain Resort

10/13/18 – 10/14/18
We’ve got lots of reasons for you to grab your beer stein, put on your lederhosen or your dirndl, bring your… more
Oct 13

Todd New River Fall Festival

10/13/18
Todd New River Festival in will take place once again on the banks of the New River at Cook Memorial Park in Todd North… more
Oct 19

North Carolina Symphony

10/19/18
The North Carolina Symphony was founded in 1932 as America's first statewide orchestra. Each year, the Symphony… more
Oct 20

The Valle Country Fair

10/20/18
The Valle Country Fair is an overgrown church bazaar set in the center of one of the most picturesque valleys in the… more
Nov 08

Stephen Stills & Judy Collins

11/8/18
Over 50 years ago, Stephen Stills met Judy Collins and their tumultuous love affair was immortalized by Stills with… more
Nov 14

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico

11/14/18
This world-renowned, folkloric ballet ensemble from Mexico City is beloved for its artistry and ability to captivate… more
Featured Events
815 W. King Street, Suite 10
Boone, NC 28607
(T) 828-266-1345  •  (F) 828-266-1346
made by Simpleview