Caldwell County Highpoint Trip Report
Date: May 17, 2004
Author: Jerry Brekhus
This report describes a route directly from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We used the Daniel Boone Scout Trail.
Round trip was approximately 6.5 miles, 2,060 feet of elevation gain, 5 hours.
The signs and junctions in the first half mile are a bit confusing, therefore I have included
Start the hike at the Boone Fork Parking Area, elevation 3905 feet, mile 299.9 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The trail sign there reads,
"THE TANAWHA TRAIL INTERSECTS WITH DANIEL BOONE SCOUT TRAIL, .7 MILE AND
GRANDFATHER TRAIL, .5 MILE WHERE HIKING PERMITS ARE REQUIRED. FOR YOUR
SAFETY AND THE PROTECTION OF THIS FRAGILE MOUNTAINSIDE, STAY ON THE
(The Grandfather Trail referred to in this vicinity does not match up with the popular Grandfather Trail that
crosses the ridge from Swinging Bridge to Calloway Peak. We never did see any trail in the Boone Fork
vicinity marked as Grandfather Trail but it seemed to refer to the Nuwati Trail,
judging by the distances posted.)
Start hiking from the Boone Fork Parking Area and real soon, 370 feet along the trail, is a junction
with the Upper Boone Fork Trail. Signs here make no mention of the Daniel Boone Scout Trail. Ignore the
Upper Boone Fork Trail and head directly toward the Tanawha Trail, which is 200 feet ahead according to a
sign parallel to the trail.
In less than 200 feet farther, observe another sign pointing back to the parking area. It reads,
" <--- UPPER BOONE FORK TRAIL
<--- BOONE FORK PARKING AREA 400 FT. "
The arrows point back the way from whence you came. You continue straight ahead and cross a footbridge.
Beyond the footbridge at another junction a sign with a feather logo on it reads,
Stay on the Tanawha Trail. Don't take the side trail to Route 221. The junction with the Nuwati Trail has a
sign with arrows and text reading,
ROUTE 221 0.7 MI.
BOONE FORK PARKING AREA 0.5 MI. "
The arrows point back the way you came and the reverse side of the sign also has an arrow pointing two
ways for the Tanawha Trail. You won't see the Nuwati Trail sign unless you walk a few feet on that trail.
(If you wish, you may take the Nuwati Trail and join the Daniel Boone Scout Trail midway, but that route
will be longer.)
Finally after continuing on the Tanawha Trail another 300 yards, reach the junction of the Tanawha Trail and
the Daniel Boone Scout Trail. The Daniel Boone Scout Trail sign has
"PERMIT REQUIRED" in red letters
to remind hikers that a permit is required.
Grandfather Mountain is privately owned, but open to hikers with permits.
At the time of our visit, a hiking permit was $6 per adult, which is all that is required for the D. B.
Scout Trail, but hiking the Grandfather Trail from a trailhead within the main gate requires an entrance ticket
with regular adult fee of $12.
We hiked up the D. B. Scout Trail, passing the Cragway Trail Junction along
the way. Weather was cloudy, with sky getting gradually darker. Near the top, there are some steep rock
inclines. Two long ladders (about 20 feet) and one short ladder have been secured to the rock outcrops.
We reached the summit with thunder becoming quite audible. The color of the blazes painted on the rocks
changes here, the white of the Daniel Boone Scout Trail giving way to the blue of the Grandfather Trail.
We did not tarry long at the summit due to the approaching storm.
On our descent we experienced a crack of thunder from lightning close enough so that the sound was more
like a Fourth-of-July noisemaker than the usual rumble. The thunder was soon followed by a heavy
downpour (just like in the movies). Our original plan had been to take the alternate way back on the
Cragway and Nuwati Trails but the storm changed our goal to getting back to our vehicle the quickest way.
One nature note: On our ascent, I spied a bright colored salamander that I took to be a child's toy it was so
shiny and bright red-orange. When the little creature moved, I realized it was alive.
It was a red eft. We don't have those back home in Montana.