Bills to formally authorize Grandfather Mountain State Park, setting the stage for creation of North Carolina's newest park alongside the famous attraction, have been introduced in both houses of the N.C. General Assembly, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
Approval would formally name the new state park and allow the state parks system to designate as park land 2,456 acres to be purchased from the Morton family, according to a release from the state.
An agreement for the state to purchase the undeveloped, backcountry portion of Grandfather Mountain was announced in September. Funding for the $12 million acquisition will come equally from the Parks and Recreation and Natural Heritage trust funds.
Meanwhile, the transition period means a new policy for hiking permits to Grandfather Mountain's trails. Currently, hikers wishing to access trails from the off-mountain trailheads will need to purchase a day hiking permit from the Grandfather Mountain ticket gate. Trails with off-mountain trailheads include the Profile Trail with access from Hwy 105 and the Boone Fork Trail with access from the Blue Ridge Parkway. After the sale of land to the State, no hiking permits will be required to access these properties from off-mountain trailheads.
The new hiking permit policy is only going to affect those hikers wishing to access trails from off-mountain sites. Visitors to Grandfather Mountain that wish to explore its extensive network of back-country trails from within the park can still do so by paying the general admission price of $14.
For 2009 all trails will continue to be maintained and monitored by Grandfather Mountain staff and state rangers.