Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,334.00 ft (406.60 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
6.60 mi (10.62 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

This hike to Roan High Bluff begins at Carvers Gap off Highway 143 TN (261 NC). Although it is possible to drive most of the way up to Roan High Bluff, this hike takes you through some beautiful forest along the Appalachian Trail and provides the opportunity to summit Roan High Knob (just off trail). While in the area, another great hike to Grassy Ridge Bald also begins at Carvers Gap.

To begin, head southbound on the Appalachian Trail (AT). A short connector trail also leads to the AT and starts just behind the vault toilet at Carvers Gap. The trail then switchbacks its way up through beautiful forest until it arrives near the summit of Roan Mountain (i.e. Roan High Knob). There is a junction here with a trail that leads about 1/10th of a mile to the summit, as well as an overnight shelter.

The trail then flattens out and leads to Cloudland Mountain. Here you will leave the Appalachian Trail and hike past the site of the once majestic Cloudland Hotel. It may be hard to believe, but there was once a three-story resort located here. It was built in the mid 1880s, contained 166 rooms and was quite popular. Unfortunately maintaining the hotel was quite a chore due to the constant abuse from the high mountain weather, and it was ultimately abandoned in 1910. It only took five years before the hotel began falling to the ground, and today little evidence remains that it was ever actually there.

Continuing onward, you’ll come to a large parking area complete with restrooms and running water. Walk straight across this parking lot until you see a sign for the Cloudland Trail, then follow this trail for the next 1.2 miles. Along the way you’ll pass near the Roan Gardens. These are the largest natural rhododendron gardens in the world, and well worth the side trip if in bloom (usually late June is peak season).

You’ll cross a few more roads/parking areas, make a short climb, and eventually arrive at the main attraction: Roan High Bluff. There is a wooden observation platform here and the views are outstanding. Mountains from the Black, Bald and Unaka ranges are visible. Once you’ve had your fill of mountain vistas and are ready for the descent, simply turn around and return the way you came.

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Fantastic views from Roan High Bluff. Beautiful forested stretch along the Appalachian Trail.

Cons

Can get busy. Can drive most of the way to the top.

Trailhead Elevation

5,512.00 ft (1,680.06 m)

Highest point

6,247.00 ft (1,904.09 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Flushing toilets
Shelters
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Potable water
Bird watching
Vault toilet

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

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