This Mile-High Swinging Bridge In North Carolina Offers Incredible Views If You’re Brave Enough To Cross

Nestled in the rugged terrain of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains lies a marvel of engineering and a beacon for adventurers: the Mile High Swinging Bridge. 

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Located within Grandfather Mountain State Park, this stunning suspension bridge offers panoramic views and an exhilarating experience that draws thousands of visitors each year. 

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or just someone who appreciates breathtaking landscapes, a trip to the Mile High Swinging Bridge is a must.

Getting There

Grandfather Mountain State Park is accessible via the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, renowned for its stunning vistas and leisurely driving experience. 

To reach the park, take the Parkway to Milepost 305, where you’ll find the entrance to Grandfather Mountain. 

Alternatively, you can access the park from Linville, NC, via US Highway 221. This route is particularly beautiful and provides a more direct approach if you’re coming from the southeast.

The Drive Up

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The drive up to the Mile High Swinging Bridge is an adventure in itself. Winding through lush forests and past cascading waterfalls, the road gradually ascends, offering glimpses of the surrounding mountains and valleys. 

As you approach the summit area where the bridge is located, the landscape opens up, revealing dramatic views that stretch for miles. 

The drive is especially magical in the fall when the foliage transforms into a tapestry of red, gold, and orange.

The Bridge and Surrounding Attractions

Standing at an elevation of 5,280 feet, the Mile High Swinging Bridge was first opened in 1952 and remains America’s highest suspension footbridge. 

Spanning 228 feet across a deep chasm, the bridge connects two of Grandfather Mountain’s rocky peaks. 

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As you walk across, you’ll feel the bridge sway slightly beneath your feet—a thrilling sensation accompanied by unparalleled views of the Appalachian landscape.

Adjacent to the bridge, the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum offers exhibits on the region’s wildlife and natural history, making it a perfect stop before or after your bridge adventure. 

Nearby, various picnic areas provide ideal spots to relax and soak in the mountain air.

Interesting Facts & Tips About The Bridge

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  • Does it sway? Just a tad! Today’s version is a sturdy spectacle of steel, spruced up with cables and springs for minimal swinging, and flanked by safety railings.
  • Tip-toe in style! We recommend sporting rubber-soled shoes for a secure strut across the rocky terrain on the bridge’s far side.
  • Not a fan of heights? No worries! Feast your eyes on the breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from solid ground or even the comfort of the parking lot.
  • Mother Nature rules here! The bridge takes a break during lightning storms, gusty winds, or icy grips for your safety.
  • Chill in the air? Since 1955, our weather station at the bridge records it all, often showing it’s 10 to 20 degrees cooler up here than down below. Hold onto your hats—it’s one of North Carolina’s windiest spots, with winds peaking at 124 mph in winter 2019.
  • Four-legged friends welcome! Pets can join the adventure if they’re leashed and well-mannered.
  • Snap and share! Capture your memories with photos or videos. Just watch out for the steep edges along Linville Peak ridge, and please leave the drones at home.
  • Ever heard a bridge sing? On windy days, the Mile High Swinging Bridge hums a tune, much like a harmonica.

Hiking to the Bridge

For those who prefer to reach the bridge on foot, Grandfather Mountain offers several hiking trails that range from moderate to strenuous. 

The most direct route is the Bridge Trail, a well-maintained path that starts from the visitor center and takes you directly to the bridge in about 20 minutes. 

This trail is relatively easy and suitable for families.

More adventurous hikers might opt for the Grandfather Trail, a challenging path that starts from the same area but takes a more rugged route, involving ladders and cables. 

This hike is not for the faint-hearted but rewards the brave with some of the most spectacular views and up-close encounters with the native flora and fauna.

What You’ll See

The views from the Mile High Swinging Bridge are truly spectacular. To the east, you can see the rolling hills of the North Carolina High Country; to the west, the peaks of the Appalachian Mountains. 

On a clear day, you might even catch a glimpse of Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi. The area is also a haven for wildlife, including deer, black bears, and a variety of birds like the broad-winged hawk.

Throughout the year, the landscape around the bridge undergoes a dramatic transformation with the seasons.

Spring brings wildflowers and budding trees, summer covers the mountains in a lush green, and winter often dusts the peaks with snow, making the bridge and its surroundings look like a scene from a fairy tale.

The Bridge’s History

The Mile High Swinging Bridge, named by Charles J. Parker during its 1952 dedication, stands at an elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level, hence the “mile high.” 

The “swinging” aspect refers to its design as a suspension bridge, which allows it to sway. 

Originally designed by Charles Hartmann Jr. and constructed in Greensboro, North Carolina, the bridge was assembled atop Grandfather Mountain after a three-week effort, hindered by bad weather from a nearby hurricane. 

It was inaugurated on September 2, 1952, by Governor William B. Umstead with a total cost of $15,000.

In 1999, the bridge underwent major renovations using the original towers but replacing cables, floor boards, and side rails with galvanized steel, which does not require painting. 

This redesign, by Sutton, Kennerly & Associates Engineering and reconstructed by Taylor & Murphy Construction, both of Asheville, cost $300,000, significantly enhancing safety and maintenance efficiency.

Plan Your Visit

The Mile High Swinging Bridge and Grandfather Mountain are open year-round, weather permitting. 

There are admission fees, which go towards the conservation and maintenance of the park. It’s advisable to check the weather and the park’s website before your visit, as conditions can change rapidly at such high elevations.

A visit to the Mile High Swinging Bridge offers a unique blend of adventure, natural beauty, and the serene joy of being high above the world. 

Whether you drive up or hike, the experience is unforgettable, providing both thrills and a deep connection with nature. Don’t forget your camera, as every moment at this majestic place is worth capturing.