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Roan Highlands Tennessee

Skill:

Easy to Moderate

Water:

None

Pros:

A great example of a Southern Appalachian Bald(s)

Cons:

Crowds in the Summer

Notes:

Views are slightly obscured by haze. The 2200 mile long AT crosses here.

Location Near Elk Park - Banner Elk , NC and Roan Tn.

Yellow Mountain | Max Patch

Stratton Bald | Andrews Bald

Roan9t.jpg (3759 bytes)Roan Mountain Tennessee is the name of a town on the North Carolina /Tennessee border.  It is often associated with a group of mountains on that same border. What makes these peaks so unique are the open spaces on these peaks that provide 3 state views. Multiples of rhododendron bushes dot the slopes.  During the month of June these bushes' blooms create a feast for the eyes. Red blooms extend across the balds for as far as the eye can see.   

This is a hike for children of all ages. It consists of three parts :

  • The Rhododendron Gardens

  • The Balds (Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap)

  • The site of the Cloudland Hotel (on the "A.T.")

Every point of interest here is well marked with signs. 

  Cloudland HotelCloudland Hotel

 
After turning at Carver's Gap, take the winding road to the parking lot at the top of the hill. At this US Forest Service maintained FEE AREA, is a parking lot, a restroom and a marker on the former location of the Cloudland Hotel. 

A very short walk of 50 to 100 feet from the parking area takes you to the sight of this well placed hotel. Built in 1885 This 300 room hotel was located in what was once a very secluded location. A concrete foundation is all that remains. From this summit the other balds in this scenic mountain range can be seen clearly. The Appalachian Trail also passes over this lofty summit.

Aside from the numerous rhododendron bushes,  spruce and fir trees populate this scenic area. This forest , similar to what you may see in Canada, exist here because of the high elevation. Summits in the southern Appalachians over 6000' in elevation often have this type of forest.

Carvers GapThe Balds

At Carver Gap parking is allowed along the roads edge. Directly behind the sign for the gap the trail to the views rises up the hill side. Tree limbs have used to form steps and water-bars on this hillside climb. The climb to the top is a 500 foot elevation change, however, the steps help make the climb easier.

 

Climb through the bloomsIn the middle of June the rhododendron bushes begin to bloom. The beautiful magenta blooms line the trail, attracting large crowds of day-hikers. As you climb to the top the scent of the flowers fill the air, making an otherwise strenuous climb very pleasant. Taken at a moderate pace this climb is not a problem for most people.

 

 

Grass waving in the windOnce at the top the views are 360 degrees. All around the grassy ridge surrounds you. As the wind blows, the thick grass waves in the wind, much like what you would see in a wheat field. After the steep climb, taking a break  down in the grass is very relaxing. The trail continues on to cross  a series of high, scenic balds - Round Bald, Jane Bald, Little Hump Mountain and Hump Mountain. The views here are extraordinary, hence the large crowds on weekends. The bio diversity here is obvious with forests of northern hardwoods interspersed between the balds.

Camping on the baldsCamping

Camping on the balds that begin at Carvers Gap, is permitted without restrictions. The U.S National Forest Service administers this land also and does not require any permits or fees to pitch your tent here. Waking up to a sunrise on one of these balds is one of life's "high points"! The views surround campers and most are reluctant to leave. The further you hike from Carvers gap the better chance you have to avoid the crowds. After a descent across a long, long boulder field below Hump Mountain, a popular hikers campsite at Dolls Flats can be found.

GETTIN' THERE

Take 181 from Morganton, N.C.. Just before entering the village of Linville turn left on 221. After a short distance turn right on 194. After 4 miles, follow the signs to the Town of Roan Mountain, TN.. After passing through the town you will see signs that lead to Roan Mountain. Follow the road to the North Carolina border and Carver's Gap.

Yellow Mountain | Max Patch

Stratton Bald | Andrews Bald

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