Roan Mountain: our favorite hikes in the Roan Highlands, Roan High Knob and Roan High Bluff

Roan Mountain: hiking the Roan Highlands, Roan High Knob, Roan High Bluff and the Appalachian Trail

Hike through abundant high-elevation beauty at Roan Mountain, a series of five mountain summits on the Appalachian Trail near the NC / TN state line. With gorgeous views, lush forest and abundant wildflowers, the remarkable beauty of Roan's highlands, knob and bluff make for an exceptional hiking adventure.

Roan Mountain is vast, wide, and stunningly beautiful. More than a single mountain, Roan’s high-elevation beauty spans a series of five summits from east to west, an eclectic and widely diverse sampling of spruce-fir forest and open, wildflower-covered mountain balds. The Roan chain is bisected in the near-middle by a paved highway at Carvers Gap and traced by the epic Appalachian Trail along most of its towering ridge. It’s a fantastic venue for day hikes and backpacking adventures alike.

Roan Mountain hiking guide: top hikes in the Roan Highlands and to Roan High Knob and Roan High Bluff

 

Roan Highlands

East of Carvers Gap, the sun-drenched, grassy Roan Highlands roll skyward in a series of three summits, Round Bald, Jane Bald, and the enormous Grassy Ridge Bald, offering spectacular, nearly continuous views from the Appalachian Trail on their crest. The Roan Highlands are the longest stretch of grassy balds in the Appalachian Mountains and stand as a contrast to the rocky, tree-covered Roan Mountain duo west of Carvers Gap.

Hike the Appalachian Trail in the Roan Highlands to nearly-continuous summit views from a trio of grassy mountain baldsAbove: hike the Appalachian Trail through the grassy Roan Highlands, catching nearly continuous gorgeous views

Roan High Knob and Roan High Bluff

Roan High Knob and Roan High Bluff scale over 6200 feet, clad in lush, rocky, moss-covered forests of spruce-fir. While the views from Roan’s Knob and Bluff aren’t as sweeping and continuous as the trio on the Roan Highlands, overlooks at Roan High Knob and Roan High Bluff offer exceptional, high-elevation views. Roan’s High Knob and High Bluff are home to the world’s largest patch of rhododendron, the historic site of the Cloudland Hotel, and a historic log Appalachian Trail shelter built in 1933.

Hike to stunning summit overlook views from Roan High Bluff at Roan Mountain in NCAbove: hike to stunning views from the Roan High Bluff overlook on the Cloudland Trail

Roan Mountain: our favorite hikes

Hike through the Roan Highlands to outstanding summit views from soaring mountains, through mossy, rocky forests, and to sun-drenched fields of wild berries on the Appalachian Trail. And explore the Roan Mountain’s forested beauty on Roan High Bluff and Roan High Knob, visiting the historic site of the Cloudland Hotel and the historic Roan High Bluff AT shelter, the highest-elevation shelter on the Appalachian Trail. The mountains’ beauty is wildly varied, continually changing, and well worth the visit: Roan Mountain is home to some of our all-time favorite hikes in western North Carolina.

Hike through the Roan Highlands on the Appalachian Trail, catching stunning summit views and visiting a historic red barn, the Overmountain Shelter

ROAN HIGHLANDS TO A HISTORIC RED BARN

Roan Highlands: Appalachian Trail to the Overmountain Shelter

Hike the Appalachian Trail to stunning view after stunning view across the Roan Highlands, climbing the duo of grassy, rolling Round Bald and Jane Bald and scaling the mid-elevations of Grassy Ridge Bald. Dropping from the Highlands, the hike follows the Appalachian Trail through scenic hardwood forest at Yellow Mountain and dips through Yellow Mountain Gap to visit the Overmountain Shelter, a historic red barn with gorgeous valley views.

10.9 MILES

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Hike the Appalachian Trail at Roan Mountain, rolling over grassy balds to Grassy Ridge Bald from Carvers Gap

STUNNING SUMMIT VIEWS

Appalachian Trail at Roan Mountain: Carvers Gap to Grassy Ridge Bald

Hike the Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap over Roan’s rolling highlands on Roan Mountain’s most popular hike. The AT meanders through grassy, wildflower-covered fields and wild blueberry thickets to exceptional 360-degree summit views at Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge Bald.

4.7 MILES

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Hike to Roan High Bluff on the Cloudland Trail at Roan Mountain in NC

GORGEOUS VIEWS FROM TWO OVERLOOKS

Roan High Bluff: hiking the Cloudland Trail

Hike the Cloudland Trail from the site of the historic Cloudland Hotel, trailing through a lush, shady, spruce-pine forest. The trail catches stunning views from a pair of overlooks at Roan High Bluff, Roan Mountain’s second-highest summit.

2.4 MILES

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Hike the Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap, climbing through a lush forest to the Roan High Knob Shelter, the highest-elevation shelter on the AT

LUSH FOREST + THE ROAN HIGH KNOB AT SHELTER

Roan High Knob Shelter: Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap

Hike the AT westbound from Carvers Gap, ascending through a lush, mossy, fir-filled forest. The hike crests near the Roan High Knob summit, Roan’s highest summit, and visits the historic log Roan High Knob Shelter, the highest-elevation shelter on the Appalachian Trail.

4.5 MILES

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Hike the Appalachian Trail at Roan Mountain, rolling over grassy balds to Grassy Ridge Bald from Carvers Gap

BLANKETS OF SNOW AND STUNNING SUNRISES

Roan Mountain in winter: Appalachian Trail on the Roan Highlands

While Roan’s beauty is abundant year-round, the Highlands are exceptionally beautiful when cloaked in a blanket of snow. Hike the Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap to Round Bald, Jane Bald and Grassy Ridge for nearly continuous, exceptional wintertime views, and catch beautiful frosty-weather sunrises and sunsets from the trio of rolling summits.

4.7 MILES

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Hiking gear list: what to pack on day hikes, our favorite, trail-tested gear

WHAT TO PACK?

Hiking gear list: our favorite, trail-tested gear

Ready to hit the trails at Roan Mountain, but wondering what to pack? Our hiking gear list details our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear that we’ve used – and loved – over thousands of miles on the trails throughout the South. From backpacks to safety gear (and a few extras thrown in for fun), our gear list offers the essentials to help inspire your own packing list.

SEE OUR HIKING GEAR LIST

Let’s hit the trail, Asheville!   #ashevilletrails

Western North Carolina's beauty is simply stunning. From Asheville's urban biking and running trails to the curvy meanders of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and from the towering heights of Mount Mitchell to the shady, cool, waterfall-filled valleys of the Pisgah National Forest, there's a whole lot of outdoor beauty to be seen in Western NC.

Snap a selfie from a hike to your favorite mountain summit, a group shot of your favorite hiking buddies, or a morning sunrise from your trail run off the Blue Ridge Parkway... we'd love to see your adventures! Share your photos with us! Tag them #ashevilletrails on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We'll share our favorites, as well as our own favorite shots!