Roan Mountain is a beautiful hiking location in the Cherokee National Forest for anyone wanting to hike most any distance. The hike we are taking starts at Carver’s Gap Parking area and is approximately a 5 mile round trip hike across 3 balds.
Elevation change/gain: 1175ft
The crests of the balds and the valleys between leave for beautiful views. Rhododendron and berry bushes populate the area.
To reach Roan Mountain from Asheville, there are 3 ways my Maps App offered. Starting on 40E towards Marion, then through Spruce Pine…
240 to I-26 to 19E towards Burnsville, then taking 197 to 261 to 143…
240 to I-26 to Erwin, Tennessee, then 173 to 143 to reach Roan mountain State Park, then following 8 more miles to Carver’s Gap.
It is important to understand that Carver’s Gap parking area is approximately 8 miles away from Roan mountain state Park entrance, and is on the NC/TN state line. The map above stops at the Park entrance.
The hike is an out and back hike following the Appalachian Trail. The parking area at Carver’s Gap is free. There is a drop-toilet in a modern outhouse at the back of the parking area. There is no running water. There are no trash cans, so plan to take out any trash you bring in.
The starting point is across the road up some gravel filled stairs. You’ll follow the trail to the right and up into the fir forest for a gorgeous start to the walk.
After leaving the forest, you’ll walk into the open skies and start the final trek to the top of Round Bald. MMR said I was at .7m at the top of Round Bald. I never could find an official sign, but we start downhill after the crest.
Looking ahead we could see a rock on the ascent to Jane’s Bald that we wanted to reach for lunch. So onward we went down the hill while capturing photos on the way. We followed white blaze marks on posts and rocks to indicate we were on the right track. At this time we are traveling north.
Starting back up the next mountain, we stop at a rock off the side of the trail to eat.
Restarting, we found a beautiful flat rock view prior to reaching the crest of Jane’s Bald.
Continuing just a little further, we found the sign for Jane’s Bald. And we continued on down the mountain. As you start down, the trail gets rockier. There is an alternate grassy/dirt path just off the path that runs parallel to the trail. Some of us opted to walk down this.
Be sure to look off to your right as you are crossing the Bald as there is a rock face that leaves for a great resting space.
Walking through the valley between the balds leave for a gorgeous panoramic view.
Continuing up the mountain to Grassy Ridge at approximately 1.88miles you reach where the trail breaks off and the AT continues left and North to Maine while the trail to Grassy Ridge Bald continues up and straight ahead.
As we continue up the trail, it becomes rockier and steeper. Towards the top there is a coverage of Rhododendron on both sides of the trail that leave you feeling as if you walking through a tunnel.
Once you are out of the tunnel, you have just a little more to go to reach the Balsam firs on the Grassy Ridge Bald. Just before you walk through the Balsam Fir forest on the trail, look East to see Grandfather mountain.
After you leave the Balsam Firs, you will see a big rock with a plaque of memorial for Cornelius Rex Peake. This is the top of Grassy Ridge Bald.
At this point you’ll turn around and return the same way you came to get gorgeous views and a workout from the opposite angle.