Tennessee: Hiking the Roan Highlands

This is day 2 of our adventure in the Roan Highlands, along the Tennesee-North Carolina border.  If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, you can do so now to get some background information about the area.

Today, we are exploring the area to the east of Carver’s Gap.  After parking at Carver’s Gap, we set out on the Appalachian Trail northbound.  Although we are day hikers, it was fun to meet long distance through-hikers on the AT.  After seeing those heavy packs, we were once again convinced that camping on the Trail is not for us!

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The trail climbs through a stand of evergreen trees, and then up and down across a series of balds.  Balds are rounded rocky or grassy mountaintops which are devoid of trees.  The lack of trees results in a major bonus: sweeping 360 degree long-range views.

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Our first stop, less than a mile from the trailhead, was Round Bald.  Elevation here is 5,586 ft.  The azaleas along the trail were in full bloom….

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The next stop on the trail was Jane Bald.  After this, the AT continues straight but there is a branch trail to the right leading to Grassy Ridge Bald, elevation 6189 ft.

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On the drive back to our Inn, we were amused by a sign in the dry grass on the roadside in the town of Roan Mountain…

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What??  Apparently the fire department business is slow and they need a few more fires to fight around here!

Details for Hikers:   An outhouse type bathroom is available at the parking area at Carver’s Gap.  Bring along your own food and water.  The parking area can fill up on peak days, so plan to get there early.  The trail is mostly exposed with no tree cover, so sunblock is a must on sunny days, and this trail should be avoided if thunderstorms are forecast.


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