Roan Highlands

Paycheck and I went for an overnight on the AT at Roan Mountain.  The plan was to hike from Carver Gap to Overmountain Shelter and back, but we arrived much later in the day than intended, so we opted to just get to Grassy Ridge instead at around 3.5 miles one way.

It was beautiful!  And crowded along the ridge, arriving at the top about 2 hours before dark would be plenty of time to get a great site though.  This was a Saturday in perfect weather, so about as crowded as I imagine it ever gets shy of thru season.

One thing we did not take into consideration was how MUCH wind there would be, it was about 20 MPH all the time, with gusts much higher.  It made the overnight temps of high 40’s seem MUCH colder.  I always pack like I am headed to Siberia if it’s going to be under 70, so we were comfy all night.  But do keep in mind it could feel 20 degrees lower than forecast plus check the weather at Carver’s Gap, not Roan Mountain State Park, which is much lower in the valley.  Even the gap is 600 feet lower than the balds, so just plan for cooler is my point.  Sorry, I am kind of a hen about some things.

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The initial path from the parking area is a durable surface, which is good because there will be 50 other people going up to the first bald and maybe 15 of those will continue to the second bald.  By Grassy Ridge, it’s just other backpackers.
Grassy Ridge is that flat bit in the top right corner of the shot, the trail to it is a signed spur trail off the AT and it goes and goes!  There are many sites along the top edges, if you keep going to where it drops off the mountain, it will drop a little way and then cross a narrow saddle.  There’s a lovely open valley tucked off from the wind, big enough for half a dozen tents.  Past that, there are a few sites right along the edge, one or two tucked into the laurel.  The trail keeps on going from there, but that’s as far as we got.

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The next morning was foggy and windy, a combo that provided some dramatic views!

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We were back at the car by 10 a.m. even with stopping to look at the views every 3 steps.  This is a great overnight if time is an issue, we will certainly be back to finish out the whole range of balds here!

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