View Full Version : Roan Mountain Conditions--Accessible?

12-26-2009, 14:15
Thinking of going up to Roan Mountain at Carvers Gap via TN-143 tomorrow (12/27). All the ranger offices are closed and can't get info about current road conditions. Does anyone know about the roads and access to this area-- can it be safely reached or does the recent snow/ice make this unadvisable?

12-26-2009, 14:57
I have no current information on the roads, but I spoke to my brother who lives in Boone, NC and the roads are all clear through Grandfather Mountain (about 30 miles away). We hiked Carver's Gap over Thanksgiving and the roads are paved and well-maintained entirely up to the gap. Good luck!

12-26-2009, 15:54
The roads up to Carvers Gap, and around Grandfather mountain are two different animals. I am not from that area, but I know both well. My brother lives in Boone and We vacation at Grandfather Mtn every year. I have hiked Roan twice and have been up and down that mtn from the Roan mtn Tenn side. I do not know the road from the NC side. The road on the Tenn. side is treacherous and takes 30 to 40 minutes in summertime conditions. 30 % of the people in that area were w/o power as of Christmas night. My brother was online checking facts while home in Blacksburg Va. for Christmas. I would try to check with locals before making that trip. Good luck have fun. Roan would be awesome this time of year if conditions warrant.

12-26-2009, 16:09
Thanks for both responses so far. Tenbeer, what you raise is definitely what I'm worried about: that b/c the road is so winding and high-altitude--and from what I can tell they had ice there on Christmas day-- it would be difficult or too dangerous to make it to Carvers Gap. But I haven't gotten any confirmation that the roads aren't passable, I just suspect it.

12-26-2009, 16:12
Call Mountain Harbour @ 866-772-9494.

12-26-2009, 19:11
Thanks for the tip about calling mountain harbour-- the woman who worked there said it was clear all the way through 19E right before 143 up to Carver's Gap, and people got up there to go hiking on the 23rd and 24th. So the main question that leaves is how much/if any ice was left up around Carver's Gap on Christmas Day. She said the ice around there wasn't that bad, and guessed that I would be able to make it up there. Any other information welcome.

Chaco Taco
12-27-2009, 20:28
lotts snow has melted. its been pretty warm up here

Cabin Fever
12-27-2009, 21:38
If you feel comfortable driving in potentially icy conditions, go. If not, don't go. The weather changes up there hourly. Will probably get some snow tonight.

Tennessee Viking
12-28-2009, 00:58
I just drove through the town, and it was all clear. The trailhead at 19E still had about 3-6 inches though. But didn't go to Carvers though.

Usually it takes about 1-2 days for NC DOT and TDOT to salt and plow Carvers Gap Road. With how much fell recently, probably 3-4 days. So it should be clear except for the occasional black ice spot. So take it easy on any wet spots on the road.

Mtn Harbor B&B and Roan Mtn Park will have good info. Forest Service offices in Burnsville NC and Unicoi TN will also have info on conditions.

As for trail conditions, you are facing about 6 inches of snow and ice on trail. The Grassy Ridge drop to the Barn will be a bit tough with snow and ice on trail.

12-28-2009, 15:23
Went ahead with the hike yesterday, here's what I have to report:

Took the Tennessee side up 143 to Carver's Gap, which was basically snow and ice-free except for small patches for the first 10 or so miles out of Roan Mountain. Starting at about the last 2.5 miles before Carvers Gap, though, there was more and more ice on the road with trees down and blocking half the road in places. After hearing from 4WD drivers coming down that things would get worse above, I decided to park on the side of 143 and walk the last bit up to Carvers Gap. When I started to walk up, I almost immediately saw two cars that had slid into the guardrail trying to go around a curve. From that point forward (~2.5 miles from the gap), the road was basically solid ice (more of a crunchy texture in some places but also slick black ice in others) for about a half to three quarters of a mile. Once you got past this, the ice petered out in the left lane for a while but the right (outer) lane had as much as two feet of snow and ice-- at places almost level with the guardrail. From there till the gap there would be stretches where one of the lanes was clear, and then the entire road would get icy again for 20 or 30 yards, then clear, etc. all the way to the Gap. I saw several cars-- mostly 4WD trucks or SUVs-- make it up to the gap from the TN side, but there were also a few smallers 2WD cars like civics and even a minivan. So while it may be possible to get up there in a non-2WD vehicle, like I said, there were also a few that didn't make it and just slid helplessly to the top of the road. The parking lot in Carvers Gap itself was basically a solid block of thick, slick, ice.

One thing I did notice up there, however, was that the NC side going down the other direction seemed much better-- clear and heavily salted as far down as I could see.

As for the trail, it was indeed covered with six inches--foot of snow with a thick frozen glaze overtop it in many places, which made the going less than easy. And the wind was unrelenting. But despite have to walk a while to make it to the trailhead, I got all the way to Grassy Ridge Bald and back down to the car before nightfall, so still a great hike, with a bit of adventure thrown in at the start!

As for how long this report can be counted on, it looks like things are supposed to deteriorate and the Roan Mountain area will be getting more snow or ice in a few days, so unless they plow again you can probably count on the conditions being at least this difficult in the next week-ten days.

12-29-2009, 11:27
Thanks for that trip report, pbones. I usually try to make a trip to Roan between Christmas and New Years as this is usually a down week for me at work. But since I am laid off it doesn't matter when I go. I am sure Roan will get some more snow this winter.