November 14th, 2020
The Traveling Lovebugs (John, Elizabeth, and Isabel) take a day to explore Grandfather Mountain. We undoubtedly chose one of the windiest and chilliest days for hiking and exploring Grandfather Mountain, but it was so worth it! The views were tremendously stunning!
Bundled up and ready to go on a new adventure, we eagerly loaded into the truck and headed out early in the morning. We brought a picnic breakfast along with us, and when John spotted the perfect spot we stopped off of the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy the brisk air and our morning picnic. It was peaceful, with only the sound of the clear running stream and our little girl, joyfully running and stretching her legs. The perfect way to start this adventurous day together!
After breakfast, we finished our drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway and were on the road that goes directly up to Grandfather Mountain. This part of the drive gave us some of the most breathtaking views. John leaned over to me and whispered romanticly ‘We’re in the sky together, baby. It’s like we’re flying!’ Indeed, it truly felt like it as the bridge swung out off the side of the mountain cliff. The sky was a beautiful light blue, and we awed at the fact we were already above the clouds at our climbing 3,500ft elevation.
Once we entered the park, we made our way up the winding road towards the top of the mountain to Trails Parking, where the Gift Shop and Skybridge are located. There were so many trails to explore, an animal exhibit to see, a gift shop to explore, and one of the most underrated aspects of this park, The Mile High Swinging Bridge, also known as the Sky Bridge.
As soon as we stepped out of the truck, we knew we chose one of the windiest and chilliest days! Isabel had her gloves snatched right out of her hands by a wind gust, and we almost lost my ball-cap as well! We bundled up the best we could and headed straight for the Sky Bridge, our first stop on this day of adventure. We couldn’t wait to see the awe-inspiring views this mile-high bridge had to offer!
As we began to climb the stairs that led up to the bridge, the gusts of wind became even stronger. John thinks they were around 55mph, and I think that’s a pretty good guess! John held Isabel safely in his arms and held my hand as we all crossed over the bridge together. We paused to take in the moment that we were standing at the one-mile point on the bridge, standing on a suspended swinging bridge at a whopping 5,280ft! It was exhilarating, to say the least. We made it to the other side and climbed the rocks so we could take in as much of the Blue Ridge views as possible.
Words cannot describe moments like these, when you can see for hundreds of miles standing atop a mountain peak. When you are looking out over lush mountain forests, feeling like you are on top of the world (literally), yet your whole world is standing right beside you. These moments put such a different perspective on life. And it is in moments like these that make our lifestyle of traveling full time entirely worth it.
They say this SkyBridge was designed to “sing” when the winds blow through it, in the same way as a harmonica. As we stood at the crossed side of the bridge admiring all we saw, we could hear this faint, ethereal yet angelic singing. Truly inspiring.
Isabel didn’t quite know what to think of being so high above the earth and held tight to her daddy most of the time.
After we made our way back across the bridge, (which by the way was way less scary and even more beautiful!) we all needed to warm up a bit, so we wandered over to the gift shop to check it out.
Although it was smaller than I expected it to be, it had a few especially cute and memorable souvenirs. My personal favorite was the large selection of stuffed animals, which came in multiple sizes, were quite realistic, and super soft and cuddly. I’m a sucker for cute things, so being the lovely husband that he is, John bought me the sweet gift of a cute little Black Bear to go with the Red Fox that sits above one of our RV windows. The rest of the shop variety consisted of figurines, Geodes, T-shirts, and hats, along with the rest of the typical gift shop goodies.
Because it was so cold that day, and because we knew we would be outside for the remainder of the day, and because we will be staying in North Carolina and North Georgia for most of the Winter, we decided to treat ourselves to a couple of real winter hats! Now we truly look like we’re ready for winter!
Before leaving the gift shop, Isabel picked one thing she’d like for herself, and that, of course, was a bag of rocks. Our little mountain climber is obsessed with rocks. She loves rocks! So we let her “mine” for rocks and pick out the ones she liked the most, and fill a bag as her own little souvenir.
Once we had spent enough time (and money) in the gift shop, we headed back to the truck to drive back down to the Black Rock parking area, where the easier trailheads were located.
As much as we would have loved to hike up to the “Grandfather Mountain” peak to see the actual Face of the mountain, we had to decide against it. As it turns out, the trail that guides you to this famed face is a strenuous, 2.6-mile hike that includes the use of cables and ladders to help you find your way up cliffs and along the steep mountain ridges. Sounds exciting and invigorating! However, not exactly a toddler-friendly trail. There were numerous trails to choose from, many of which include treks that cross the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We laced up our hiking boots, loaded Isabel into her Backpack (probably the last time she can ride in it, she’s just about too big), and made sure everyone had a hat on. Our trail of choice was the Bridge Trail, with most of this passage being an easy to moderate climb up a rocky and slightly muddy mountainside.
The Bridge Trail provided magnificent scenery of both the Mountainous landscape and the wooded foliage. Isabel thought it was fun to spot and point out the baby Christmas evergreen trees as she rode along on her daddy’s back. I had a wonderful time climbing the rocky path, it felt so refreshing!
A little more than halfway up the path, we began to hear the SkyBridge sing – it could be heard from the trail much better than when we were walking across it. As we continued to climb, it became more clear, more angelical, and more defined. Listening to the majestic and heavenly melody from the bridge was calming, uplifting, and a rewarding end to this hike. As we arrived at the top where we started this day out, we marveled at the immense architectural design, from the bridge itself to the anchors that tie it down and hold it in place. Such a brilliant design, a real wonder.
Climbing back down the muddy and rocky path was a bit more challenging than climbing up! Near the end, Isabel wanted to get out and put her mountain climbing skills to work. Holding onto her father’s guiding hands, she finished like a real junior trailblazer. My little rock obsessed, mountain climbing, not so little girl. sniffs
After another quick snack break, we hopped back in the truck and found our way twisting down the road until we came to the animal exhibits. Before we came here, I didn’t even know there were animals to see, so this was like an extra little bonus to the day’s trip, and a nice way to end our day at the park.
Passing the museum, we saw that the park is in the process of adding on the addition of an interactive activity center, full of enriching activities for little learners! Since this is a work in progress, the museum itself didn’t have much to offer at the moment, so we went straight on to the exhibits.
Out of the five exhibits they had, we were able to see four of them; the North American Elk, River Otter, Cougars, and the American Bald Eagles. Being the beginning of winter, the Black Bear were hiding away in their caves.
While there was so much more to see here, we feel we ventured as far and experienced as much as is possible with a toddler. While we did not get to hike to Grandfather Mountain, on our drive out we sighted the Split Rock and the Sphinx Rock, two rock wonders that sit near the entrance of the park.
In summery, today was wonderful, full of marvelous sights, thrilling moments, lots of laughter, irreplaceable memories, and precious time spent with my family. My World. My Lovebugs.
To end such a day, we topped it off with a stop at Mellow Mushroom pizza in Boone, NC. Is there a better way to satisfy a bear of an appetite and end a great day than with cosmic pizza? Drools
Be sure to watch our YouTube video below to see our adventure live in action! Like, comment, and subscribe to our channel, The Traveling lovebugs. You can come along on all of our adventures by following us on Instagram @thetravelinglovebugs.
More Information on Grandfather Mountain State Park can be found here: https://www.ncparks.gov/grandfather-m…
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Thank you so much for reading and watching. Have a blessed day!
The Traveling Lovebugs
John, Elizabeth, & Isabel