About 20 minutes from Boone NC, a new parking area and approach trail begin the Profile hike. This parking area has been in the works for years and we were excited to finally see the new bathhouse and extension of the trail.
We parked near the bathhouse and filled out our slip (required of all campers and hikers) before climbing grandfather mountain. Several additional campsites have been added in this area, as well as some being closed due to black bear activity.
We hiked about 3 miles, past the creek, through rhododendron tunnels and through grassy gatherings of stinging nettles. Our son told everyone we passed not to touch them, but that they could eat them!
We made it to the Profile campsite - about a mile from the top, but a great campsite. There are several great trees for hanging hammocks and two good tent pads sites. This site also has bear cables for hanging food and items that the bears would deem interesting. We were only here for half an hour before additional campers joined us. They entered as loud, cursing college students, but changed their language upon seeing our youngest and were very friendly.
We enjoy the campfire pit here best as it is surrounded by rocks that block the wind and make a fire possible at this elevation, but this trip ended in a severe thunderstorm and lots and lots of rain which made that impossible this time. There are no facilities at this campsite - but this is a great intro to backpacking site to use as the hike is reasonable, both in length and elevation.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At this campsite, I tested the Mountain House Chicken Noodle Casserole which was delicious!! https://www.mountainhouse.com/m/product/homestyle-chicken-noodle-casserole.html
We most commonly carry our own dehydrated concoctions or more basic meals, but I was pleasantly surprised by both the texture and taste of the Chicken Noodle Casserole. 2 adults and 1 child shared this meal (listed as 3 servings) and were pleasantly satisfied. We rehydrated 2 pouches, but ended up eating the second pouch the next morning. There were lots of vegetables and enough flavor (and salt) to satisfy the post hiking cravings. Our son was especially pleased with this meal, as he said it tasted like chicken pot pie, one of his favorites!
We boiled water at the beginning of our hike so we could refill waterbottles before heading up. We usually hike to the top after setting up camp but with the weather looking chancy, we weren't going to risk hitting the spring. I carried the rehydrating pouch up in my pack and ate about 2 hours later and it was NOT a mushy mess. I added exactly 2 cups of water and it was perfect. I can't stress that enough. I have eaten so many mushy rehydrated meals on the Appalachian Trail, I nearly expect all freeze-dried meals to do the same.
I would strongly recommend this meal, especially if you like chicken pot pie!
The profile trail is a great hike but it is 3.6 miles of mostly uphill on rugged terrain. Permits are required on this trail. They are free and available at the trailhead. We also visited the swinging bridge which was a very short and windy hike with great views.
This is a tough hike but well worth it! Make sure you factor in every mile may take up to 1 hr so bring plenty of water. It’s one of our favorite places to backpack and we have been and will continue to visit year round. As always pack out what you pack in!
NC has a few gems and this is definitely one. I have only scratched the surface, but the 11+ trails, the animal habitats, mile high swinging bridge, and museum are just a few things families should visit. The Highland Games at McCrea Meadows is an awesome camping communal experience that I treasure. This July they just completed a new visitor center at the Profile Trailhead off Hwy 105 - beautiful facility with granite counters, detailed maps, and high pressure water pump to top off your supply. Trail is newly marked/ updated & cleared for easy tracking.
We very much enjoyed our stay at the park! Centered right on top of Grandfather mountain, the hiking was incredible! Trails all around and beautiful views of those Blue Ridge mountains - see my pictures for views from the trails. Sites fill up quick, and of course tourists are abound especially during peak weekends (ie: summer through the fall) but overall an enjoyable stay! Facilities are very nice and clean, most of the time. We very much recommend hiking the 3 peaks - MacRae, Attic Window and Calloway. A very hard and challenging trail with cables and ladders but also very rewarding views! You have to give this campground a shot!