Hiking and Water Spots
- Lake Coffey.
- This is a small, but beautiful lake stocked with fish several times per year and a 1/4 mile paved trail and boardwalk circling the lake, perfect for some moderate exercising. There is a fishing pier perfect for the family. Just don’t forget the fishing license!
- Lower Pond Creek Trail
- This is a short hike, only about 0.6 miles each way. It’s a there-and-back hike, down then back up, but it is pretty challenging and quite vertical. According to my Garmin, you’re going to drop then climb about 500 vertical feet in that little-over-half-mile. But the pay-offs are worth it. There are natural slides on the rocks for the kids, waterfalls, and beautiful views. And its easily accessible right at Lake Coffey.
- Upper Pond Creek Trail
- This is a 1-mile trail and a great intro to the mountain for new visitors. It’s an easy hike, there are a lot of great views and it ends you right at Lake Coffey.
- Grandfather Mountain Hike: Profile Trail
This is my family’s and my favorite hike on the mountain, but it’s not for everyone. This one is a doozy but more than worth it with the payoff. Fair warning: you’re going to do more than 6 miles and 2500 vertical feet of climbing. But if you’re adventurous, fit, not scared of heights and up for some of the most beautiful views, then this is a game-changer for you. What we do does take some planning. Start at profile trail, continue to the upper trail to the suspension bridge at Grandfather Mountain. This will take you to the peak of the mountain, then end you at the Welcome Center for Grandfather Mountain where you will need someone to pick you up to return you to your car at the Profile parking lot which is right next to the Lowes grocery store in Tyne Castle.
About a 45-minute drive from the Top of Beech, this is a favorite of my oldest, a teenage boy with more of a sense of adventure than common sense. But it’s relatively easy to get to and several places to jump. It can get a little crowded on the weekend, so get there early or better yet, go during the week if you can. Best bet for directions is to search on Waze for Laurel Creek Falls, park on the side of the highway where it is obvious there is room to do so, walk across the street (its a highway, be careful) and up-hill a couple hundred feet and there is a trail-head that will take you right to the falls.
This place is about a 50-minute drive from the top of Beech. The easiest thing to do here is to find Laurel Creek Falls first. Once you know where to park for Laurel Creek/Trash Can Falls, then continue to drive past the parking for Trash Can for about a quarter mile and you’ll see a small turn-off for Snakes Pit. You can do either a steep climb down then hike down-creek to the swimming hole, or you can hike along the street for a hundred yards and take an easier trip down. This is a phenomenal place to pack in a lunch for a picnic and spend the day with the kids. There are smaller rocks to jump off and even a rope swing into the water.
This is a beautiful waterfall to visit and a favorite of our dog. It’s about a 45-minute drive from the top of Beech. There is a somewhat strenuous hike, about 1.5 miles, down to the falls but it is another beautiful place to picnic for an afternoon. Downside is tht, as I understand it, you’re no longer allowed to swim in water or jump in from on or around the falls.
- Elk River Falls
- Another beautiful falls, probably the largest by water volume in the area, but it can also be a dangerous one so exercise caution. This is about a 40-minute drive from the Top of Beech.
- Twisting Falls/Compression Falls
- You’re about 25-minutes from this location and this one is the favorite of my kids. Every time they bring friends up to the mountain, we head here. Its right on the Tennessee border. This place is the absolute best for thrill seekers but it is challenging all-around. Its a tough, steep, mile-long climb down over roots, loose rocks and gravel. Wear shoes, no flip flops. But once down, the falls is breathtaking, and for the thrill seekers you can slide over the falls, jump next to the falls (about 30′) and above the main falls there is another spot with 20′, 35′ and 45′ jumps as well. Ask lots of questions to people who have been there before before attempting any of the jumps. The water is always plenty-deep however jumps at these hieghts will always be dangerous. But its so much fun!
- Buckeye Lake Recreation Center
This is a place with something for just about everyone in the family. There is a phenomenal and unique play structure for young kids with ropes, swings, and slides for plenty of active-time. There are outdoor tennis courts and basketball courts as well as a running track about 1/3rd of a mile in circumference. There is an indoor fitness center, indoor tennis and basketball courts and even an indoor playroom for young kids. You can access these activities for a small daily charge, an annual membership and many of them – like the track and playground – are free! All of this is situated overlooking Buckeye Lake which is a beautiful reservoir stocked with fish. At the rec center, you can even check out a canoe for free and paddle around the beautiful lake. I like to do that and drop a fishing line in the water to catch the big ones (big ones not included).