Backpack the Roan Highlands (A.T.)

Carvers Gap

Traverse six grassy balds along the Appalachian Trail, all above five thousand feet. On the way you will meet thru-hikers, all the while enjoying 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Camp on a mountain overlooking North Carolina and Tennessee, and enjoy breathtaking views of the night sky.

The Roan highlands, possibly one of the best sections of the Appalachian Trail, is a section of grassy balds that range from 5000-6000 feet following the A.T.

Start at Carvers Gap ( Highway 261 NC / Highway 143 TN) on the TN/NC border. You can either leave a car at Highway 19E or arrange for a shuttle with Mountain Harbour Hostel.

Head North on the A.T. Climbing Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge Bald. Be sure to do some exploring or the extra 1 mile out and back on Grassy Ridge Bald. It makes for a great spot to have lunch too!

Descending your way into Yellow Mountain gap, there is a side trail to the overmountain shelter and a great spot to refill your water. If the weather is bad take shelter in the barn for the night or push on to big yellow mountain, and camp in the grassy fields for some great sunset and sunrise views. In the morning ascend little hump and big hump mountain before doing the long descent down to 19E.

Pack List

  • Backpacking gear
  • Water filter
  • Food
  • Tent
  • Rain gear
  • Camera
  • Hiking poles
  • Bear bag
  • Trail Map
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RT Distance 14 Miles
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Best Hike On The AT, Hands-Down

The views from the mountain balds will take your breath away if the 15-mile hike doesn't first. I've lived in Tennessee practically my entire life and have thoroughly explored the surrounding area and have yet to find a better day-hike. I would highly advise calling the shuttle service ahead of time to give them advanced notice. Leave at 7 am or earlier to give you enough time to reach the shuttle service before it stops at 4.

Best Backpacking Experience Yet

I took Labor Day Weekend 2016 and spent 3 days hiking 38 miles, going out and back from Carvers Gap. I can't say enough about this destination and the experience. I've heard abut the Roan Highlands for years, but now I truly understand why its one of the most popular backpacking destinations not only on the Appalachian Trail, but in the Eastern United State overall. If you haven't hiked it yet, find the time to do it; it's worth it.

Stunning Views

I spent 4 days backpacking the AT starting at Indian Grave Gap through Yellow Mountain and spent nights at epic shelts Roan High Knob and Overmountain Shelter, The Barn. It was an incredible experience and stunning views through the balds. A place I wouldn't mind revisiting!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

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Backpack to Overmountain Shelter in the Roan Highlands

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Camp at Round Bald

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Hike to Grassy Ridge Bald in the Roan Highlands

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