View Full Version : 3 night Roan Highland area hike?

08-30-2012, 23:21

I am looking for a hike along the AT in the Roan Highland area. Here are a few things to consider for this hike:

Time will be mid October.

I will be with my wife, and possibly friends. So, I am looking at 3 nights on the trail and no more than around 30 miles (give or take 5 or so, maybe more if terrain is not so bad).

I prefer not to pay a shuttle, but this will depend on whether or not friends come so we can stage cars. So, for now, I would take rec's for point to point hikes, loop hikes or there and back hikes.

Anyway, this is just off the top of my head, and I am not familiar with this area at all... the farthest north I have been on the AT was Max Patch, and that was from the parking area. However, I am more familiar with the AT in and below the Smokies, but looking to go just a hair farther north this year.

Any suggestions? Thanks.


I pulled out my companion guide and am off the top of my head looking at Erwin to Carver Gap. Any one with suggestions on this area?

08-31-2012, 10:31
Erwin to Carvers gap is a great hike. Do it southbound starting at Carvers though. Less tough climbs this way and easy to stage your camping spots.
Option one.
Park one car in Erwin at Uncle Johnny's and drive the second (or get Uncle Johnny's to shuttle) to Carvers Gap.
Day one Hike south on AT to Clyde Smith Shelter 7.9 miles.
Day two continue south to Cherry Gap Shelter 8.7 miles.
Day three south to Curley Maple Shelter 12.2 miles
Day four south to Uncle Johnnys 4.2 miles. Total miles 33.0

Option two. If short on time on first day due to travel.
Park one car at Indian Grave Gap and drive or shuttle to Carvers Gap.
Day one south on At to Roan High Knob Shelter 1.5 miles
Day two south to Clyde Smith Shelter 6.4 miles.
Day three south to Cherry Gap Shelter 8.7 miles.
Day four south to Indian Grave Gap 8.1 miles. Total miles 24.7.

Both are good hikes. Choice may be dependent on how far you have come on your travel day and if you plan to start your hike the same day. Also in option one day three is long (12.2 miles) and has a pretty tough climb up Unaka Mtn. early in the day.

Good Luck

08-31-2012, 16:21
Thanks Chelko,

I like the sound of option 1 the best...

We will be driving up the day before our hike and plan to preferably camp at the trail head, or stay at a hostel if having to get a shuttle anyway.

So, considering option #1, is there any side trails that we should consider?

09-01-2012, 20:51
I cant imagine being there and NOT hiking Roans grassy balds. No reason to stay in the woods with no views!

You can do more than 30 with 3 nights there. Think 2 days and 2 half-days most likely.

I did that part starting at Indian Grave Gap, and walked back to 19E. 42 miles, easy.

first 1/2 day - 9 miles to cherry gap includes Beauty Spot, or since road goes there can start there and cut several miles.
2nd day - camp near Hughes gap
3rd day - overmountain shelter , not to be missed.
4th half day - down to 19E (10 easy miles with lots of views)

09-01-2012, 22:38
If that is too ambitious, start at Iron mountain Gap, 30 miles on the nose. Either way, I would def. do the grassy balds if I was in the vicinity. You can drive to Beauty spot and check it out too if dont want to hike from there.

09-02-2012, 10:30
Thanks Muddy Waters.

If it were up to me, I would like to do 20+ mile days, however, my wife would not be keen on that, so somewhere in the 30 - 35 mile range would probably be more ideal...unless the 40+ miles between Erwin and US19 is pretty easy... Anyway, we are planning to drive up and stay the first night then begin hiking the next morning. I can spend up to 3 more nights on the trail, but will need that last day to be no more than about 5 miles so we can get a fairly early start on the way back home...

Also, I am very unfamiliar with this area...so please forgive my green questions...

Is the Roan's grassy balds along the AT?

I would be just fine setting up camp on the balds each night rather than at a shelter, although I like the idea of being able to just be able to make our decision at the moment too... if that makes sense.

However, a buddy of mine keeps telling me how hard the hike up Bluff Mtn (heading north) is, so I have also been wanting to go and see just how hard it is...So, I am also considering doing the section from I-40 to Hot Springs... He has spiked my curiosity as he has said that it is the hardest mountian he has climbed... but, I have a feeling that the Roan Highlands may be a little prettier so I will probably stick with that...

09-02-2012, 13:48
Many consider Carvers Gap north to 19E one of the most scenic parts of the AT. It is 14 miles that shouldnt be missed , especially in early June when rhododendron is blooming, thats what its known for, but views are great anytime. Many do this part in 1 day as a long day hike, or at most 2 days with an overnight at Overmountain Shelter. Roan Mountain is actually a 20 mile long massif that has many peaks on it. Roans grassy balds would be Jane bald, Round Bald, Grassy Ridge Bald, little Hump, and Hump. They are all in this section between Carvers and 19E. Professional photographers come there to take pictures , especially when the rhododendron is blooming.

Going south to Erwin, you are in woods most of the time with no views.
Going south, Roan High Knob, little rock knob, and Unaka mountain are more challenging climbs than anything going North of Carvers.

09-03-2012, 21:43
HHmmm....it won't be June, but it sounds like I need to squeeze that part in... This will be a good chance to (hopefully) for my wife to bring here camera and get some got shots maybe... in that case, maybe we will just do some in and out from one central spot...or something...

How safe would my car be at Carver's Gap?

I am thinking maybe drive in to Carver's Gap and hike up to Roan High Mtn Shelter for the first night. The next morning, make our way up to Roan mtn for some pics and just to check it out...then hike back down and hike past Carver's Gap towards 19E. Maybe we could hike to one of the grassy balds to set up camp for our second night? (Any suggestions?) Then the next day we could finish hiking north (but how far?) before turning around and hiking back to our car at Carver's Gap. This way we will spend 2 nights on the trail and should be able to squeeze in this 18ish mile section. Then we could drive to Erwin (?) for a motel overnight and get cleaned up and then the next day drive to see Beauty Spot...

How would this sound? She may like it more if it looks like we are doing less miles and she could go slow and get some good photo ops... Or would I be better just hiking a section?


09-03-2012, 22:46
I dont think parking overnight at Carvers Gap is real highly reccomended.
We parked at Mountain Harbour and had them shuttle us.

Chaco Taco
09-03-2012, 22:46
grassy ridge, the balds and humps, best foliage hike

09-04-2012, 00:31
I dont think parking overnight at Carvers Gap is real highly reccomended.
We parked at Mountain Harbour and had them shuttle us.

Hhmmm...I was liking that idea too... oh well...I still have plenty of time to figure it out...

09-04-2012, 18:15
How is the parking at Beauty Spot? Is it trustworthy?

09-04-2012, 19:08
I wouldnt leave my vehicle there. Very frequented by locals, with a secluded gravel road that goes to it. I could see it being a popular place on Friday and Sat night for some teenagers.

09-05-2012, 00:54
Alrighty then...so it sounds like a shuttle hike it will be then...

09-05-2012, 09:16
I have left cars at both Carvers and Beauty Spot on several occasions with no problems at all.

09-05-2012, 22:41
So, I will probably just plan to use a shuttle... I will see...

Anywhoo...what kind of weather conditions can I expect in mid to late October in the Roan Highlands?

Snow?! :)