Easy to Moderate
A great example of a
Southern Appalachian Bald(s)
Crowds in the Summer
Views are slightly obscured
The 2200 mile long AT crosses here.
||Near Elk Park - Banner Elk , NC and
| Max Patch
Stratton Bald |
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.
is a hike for children of all ages. It consists of three parts :
of interest here is well marked with signs.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
| Max Patch
Stratton Bald |