Field Trip: Roan Mountain

June 17, 2018 all-day
Everette Robinson

Field Trip to Roan Mountain

with Everette Robinson

Roan Splendor by Everette Robinson

ROAN MOUNTAIN © 2013 Everette Robinson

Field Trip—Roan Mountain Balds

Sunday, June 17-9:00 AM Driving Time from Asheville: One hour forty minutes to two hours. Field Trip Leader: Everette Robinson-cell phone day of trip 828-545-1369

Recommended apparel: Comfortable shoes, layered clothing, rain gear (just in case). It should be warm, but the early mornings can be a bit nippy.

Recommended equipment: Wide-angle lens, macro lens, telephoto lens, polarizer, and graduated neutral density filter. Lot of possibilities from blooms to sweeping views to isolation of ridge-lines.

Description: In mid-June the balds in the Roan Mountain massif explode into remarkable beauty with the blooming of the Catawba rhododendron and flame azalea. Few regions in the southern Appalachians can approach the beauty of the Roan Mountain balds at this time of year.

Hike Description: We will hike from Carver’s Gap to the summit of Round Bald, initially passing through the rhododendron field and reach an incredible stand of flame azalea on the far side of Round Bald. This is about one mile from the parking area and moderate in difficulty. We will take a very leisurely pace, but you will probably be huffing and puffing.

For those wanting to go further we will proceed to Jane Bald and its spectacular views, roughly two miles from the parking area. This option will be strenuous, but with many shooting stops we should be able to break the climb to the summit into manageable chunks.

Difficulty: Even if you’re not able to hike to the balds, I would encourage you to join us. The first rhododendron field is directly across the road from the parking area, where many people shoot the blooms interspersed with the old-fashioned wood rail fence.

The trip to the Round Bald summit is a moderate mile, one-way, and the summit of Jane Bald is a strenuous two miles, one-way.

Duration: Attendees can call it a day at any point, so the day could last from an hour to the entire day, accordingly. Bring a lunch if you want, but definitely bring water and snacks because there are no facilities after Bakersville. Though the adjacent state park (fee involved) has picnic areas and is well worth the visit, it is not part of our plans.

Directions: From Asheville take I-26 toward Tennessee and take Exit 9 toward Burnsville. Take US 19 through Burnsville. Just before entering Spruce Pine turn left onto NC 226. Continue on NC 226 through Bakersville, where you will pick up NC 261 the rest of the way to Carver Gap. Though NC 261 is paved, it is steep and curvy, and you need to be watchful for darting deer in the early morning.

I notice that many route planners take you from Asheville to Elizabethton, TN, and US 321 to the town of Roan Mountain, TN, and then up TN 143 to Carver’s Gap. This route is longer but straighter, recommended for those prone to car-sickness, although TN 143 is as steep and curvy as NC 261.

There is no cap on participation on this outing.