Asheville TrailsbyTrailful Outdoor Co
Appalachian Trail in North Carolina

Carvers Gap to Roan High Knob

Hike to Roan High Knob on the Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap, climbing through a mossy, fir-filled forest to beautiful Roan Mountain views.

georgia hiking trails: 4-6 miles 4.5 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderaterelatively
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails near Asheville for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:on the Appalachian Trail at Roan Mountain

PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 783 Trails Illustrated Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)

Roan Mountain is one of those places that’s so exceptionally beautiful, and so extraordinarily expansive, it’s hard to capture in photos. Sprawling over five mountain summits, Roan Mountain’s landscapes are diverse, from grassy, sun-drenched mountain balds to shady, lush, rocky peaks.

Dipping through Carvers Gap, the Appalachian Trail runs east to west, offering extremely different hikes in either direction. To the east, the AT summits the grassy, nearly tree-barren stretch of the Roan Highlands, a trio of balds that comprise the largest stretch of grassy bald in the Appalachian Mountains. It’s an exceptional, sun-drenched, view-packed hike, and easily one of our favorites in North Carolina.

Carvers Gap to Roan High KnobAbove: hike from Carvers Gap to beautiful views from this overlook at Roan High Knob

This hike follows the AT west from Carvers Gap, ascending Roan High Knob through a lush, green, shady forest filled with balsam fir trees, fern, and moss. The hike passes the Roan High Knob shelter, the highest-elevation shelter on the entire Appalachian Trail. And, passing the summit, the hike veers off the AT to visit a high-elevation overlook, catching exceptional views near the former site of the historic Cloudland Hotel.

Hike to Roan High Knob on the Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap, climbing through a mossy, fir-filled forest to beautiful Roan Mountain views. #hiking #trailrunning #backpacking #asheville #nc #northcarolina #travel #outdoors #adventure

Carvers Gap to Roan High Knob: the hike

The adventure departs from the Roan Mountain trailhead at Carvers Gap (view maps and driving directions), hiking the Appalachian Trailhead northwest from the gap. The hike follows the AT’s iconic, white rectangular trail blazes, crossing several small wood bridges over trickling streams before veering sharply south. The climb to the Roan High Knob summit begins, a nearly unrelenting climb from the trailhead.

The hike crosses a wooden bridge at .25 mile, diving through a dense forest of balsam fir. Lush moss carpets the rich forest floor, covering the rocky, rooty landscape.

Carvers Gap to Roan High Knob

The climb intensifies as the AT courses through six sharp switchbacks. Through-the-trees views expand on the trail;s left as the hike nears the summit. The hike peaks elevation, passing a side trail at 1.4 miles leading to the Roan High Knob Shelter, a small log cabin that holds the distinction of being the highest-elevation shelter on the Appalachian Trail.

The hike begins a gradual descent, passing a grouping of large, angular rock outcrops at 1.7 miles. Lichen, fern and vibrant green moss thrive in this sun-dappled, often foggy, high elevation forest.

The AT dives through Toll House Gap before beginning a second, shallow climb. The trail meanders through a rocky, root-filled landscape, passing the remains of an old stone chimney at 1.9 miles.

Carvers Gap to Roan High Knob

The trail skirts the former location of the historic Cloudland Hotel, a popular Roan Mountain destination in the late 19th century. At 2 miles, this route hangs a hard left, departing the Appalachian Trail to hike southwest through the Cloudland Hotel parking area. At the far end of the parking area, the hike dives back into a shady, mossy, fir-filled forest on the Cloudland Trail. At 2.25 miles, the hike turns right, following a short spur trail to catch views from a stone-walled overlook.

Departing the overlook, this hike flips in reverse, following the Roan High Bluff Trail eastbound. (Alternately, continue following the Cloudland Trail to Roan High Bluff, catching another view-packed summit view from a rocky overlook and adding just over two miles to the hike.) After passing through the parking area and the Cloudland Hotel, the hike turns right on the Appalachian Trail, descending through the lush forest surrounding Roan High Knob. The adventure reaches the Carvers Gap trailhead at 4.5 miles, completing the hike.

More Roan Mountain hiking adventures

Up for some more mileage (and some beautiful landscape diversity)? Hike the AT east from Carvers Gap east to Grassy Ridge Bald, and then this hike west to Roan High Knob, for a 9-mile AT adventure that’s simply unforgettable.

Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.

Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.

Appalachian Trail: Carvers Gap to Roan High Knob Map, Directions & Details

This map shows our approximate route while exploring this trail, but does not replace an official trail map. Please refer to the official trail map for the most current and accurate route.

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Driving Directions


Free parking is available at the trailhead.

GPS Coordinates

36.106871, -82.110429     //     N36 06.406 W82 06.638

Elevation Profile

Carvers Gap to Roan High Knob Elevation Profile

Eric Champlin is a creative director and photographer who loves to explore southeast. He's the co-owner of Trailful Outdoor Co, a locally-owned hiking outfitter shop in Hiawassee in the Georgia mountains near the Appalachian Trail. He’s also the co-founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.