Skip to Content

We Found a Plane Crash in the Mountains When Hiking Grandfather Mountain

Travel Stage: After Huntersville, Before Asheville
Date Range: May 5 – 10, 2016
Summary: We stay at a Thousand Trails campground in Lenoir, NC. From here we visit Boone and hike Grandfather Mountain.

When we visited Banner Elk and Boone in fall of 2015, we left with some unfinished business. We also had really liked the area and wanted to spend more time there in general. This time, we brought our house with us too!

Found a Plane Crash in the Woods While Hiking Grandfather Mountain | MOTM VLOG #46

We stayed at a campground in Lenoir, NC which was about 30-45 minutes away from Boone, where we met up with some friends for dinner. We also toured more of downtown Boone where we found some awesome cheap tourist t-shirts and a kava bar of all things! (If you’re not familiar with kava, it is a South Pacific root drink that has similar yet different effects than alcohol.)

Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain is technically the highest mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains with its Calloway Peak topping out at 5,946 ft. It is, however, beaten by nearby mountains in neighboring ranges: Mount Mitchell (elv. 6,684 feet), located 40 miles south in the Black Mountain range, is the highest point in Eastern America. Roan Mountain (elv. 6,285 feet), located 20 miles to the west, is the highest peak in the Unaka Mountains, and we hiked it last fall. It was named “Grandfather” by pioneers who recognized the face of an old man in one of the cliffs.

​Grandfather Mountain is probably the most visited mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has an aquarium, a science museum, a famous suspension bridge, and more. And it costs $20 per person to get into the State Park that houses all this entertainment. We didn’t want all that fluff. We wanted to climb the mountain!

grandfather mountain hiking trail map for cragway trail
boone fork sign parking area

We planned our trek to the highest peak, Calloway Peak at 5,946 feet. We started our ascent from the Boone Fork Parking Area at 3,905 feet with the dogs in tow. The trail we took was marked as “strenuous” and we didn’t really give much thought to what that meant. Maybe “beginners beware?” This wasn’t our first mountain, so we figured we’d be fine.   

The angle was pretty steep the whole way and the trail was very rocky for the 3.7 miles up to Calloway Peak. We took pride in the burning of our legs and the sweat on our brow. Masters of the mountain! The dogs were enjoying themselves, too. We had some amazing vistas along the way.

hiking with dogs on grandfather mountain near boone

At one point along the trail we came across the wreckage of a plane that had crashed long ago. The twisted metal and debris spread across 200 yards or more. Still here from when it crashed in 1978. It took rescue crews 4 hours to reach the crash, which was fatal for the pilot who was the only person inside. You can read the Newspaper report of the incident here and read the N735MB crash report here if you are curious.

Then we came to the ladders. They went practically straight up the faces of gigantic boulders. We knew we had to be close! But the dogs couldn’t do ladders. We had to bushwhack our way around and up along the hillside using the trees to pull ourselves up. The dogs had 4-wheel-drive so had no problem bounding up the steep grade as long as their claws could dig into the dirt.  ​At last, we reached the top!

hiking to the top of grandfather mountain
blue ridge mountains

It had taken us 4 hours to hike to the top of the peak, and now we had to beat the sunset down the mountain. It went much faster, just 2.5 hours, and we almost lost Bella over one of the boulders with the ladders on it, but we made it in plenty of time.

stream along hiking trail

We were pretty relieved and tired when we finally make it back to the parking lot. The dogs passed out for the ride home…and I think I may have too!

dogs riding in backseat of truck

​Highland Coffee House – Lenoir, NC

​One other place of note we visited was the Highland Coffee Shop in downtown Lenoir. We needed good internet for a day and found this cozy little shop to meet our need. They also made a killer Caramel Macchiato. 

flower in blue ridge mountains

Become A Mortons On The Move Insider

Join 15,000+ other adventurers to receive educating, entertaining, and inspiring articles about RV Travel Destinations, RV Gear, and Off-Grid Living to jump-start your adventures today!

About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

About Us

Sharing is caring!


Sunday 8th of April 2018

Great job linking the plane crash and the news article. I just came across this this weekend and wanted to read a little about it.