Backpack the Roan Highlands (A.T.)

Carvers Gap, Bakersville, North Carolina, United States

  • Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Point-to-Point

  • RT Distance:

    14 Miles

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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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Reviews

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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.

9 months ago
9 months ago

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.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Backpacked the first 7 miles with a couple of buddies, set up camp, then around 9:30 pm decided to finish the last 7 miles in the dark under the full moon. Can't wait to get back out there and do it again.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Love! One of my favorite spots along the AT. Rain or shine this place is beautiful.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

a true alpine start is rewarded with a sunrise you wont forget

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Steve Yocom

25 years young. Burst at the seems, be what you dream. Living in the Blue Ridge Mountains! Adventuring whenever I can!

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