Peak Time on Roan Mountain and Jane Bald
Took my main hike of the season up to Roan Mountain with a good friend yesterday. We were greeted with a prime peak of Catawba Rhododendrons and Blaze Azaleas. There can't be a better place on earth. No way Iceland beats this location at this time of year. It won't last much longer so please get up if you intend to go.
For those not familiar with Roan Mountain, it is located on the North Carolina / Tennessee border, about a 40 minute drive south west of Banner Elk, NC. You find the trailhead at Carver's Gap, which is also part of the Appalachian Trail. From Carver's Gap, start your hike up to Round Bald. A "bald" is a grassy meadow with very few trees on top section. Continue to Jane Bald, which is one of the favorite photo ops due to a rocky outcrop with a wonderful westerly view. You can get some great sunset photographs under good conditions. Continue further to the final bald, Grassy Ridge. Throughout your hike you will see hillsides covered with purple and orange flowers. The sight is spectacular.
In all, the roundtrip hike is about 8 miles or so. While not a overly strenuous hike, it will give you a workout especially if you're carrying photo equipment. Since you'll likely want to spend all day there exploring, be sure to take plenty of water and food. You can easily spend 12 hours on Roan Mountain. Also, if it sunny, be sure to wear sun block. There is very little shade. Be aware weather changes quickly up there. On our hike we got caught in three rain showers during the day and ended the day walking the final two miles out in a heavy downpour. If a thunderstorm arises, get off the mountain quickly as you can since this area has frequent lighting strikes and poses a high risk to hikers.
Keywords: appalachian trail, azaleas, blaze azaleas, blue ridge mountains, carvers gap, catawba rhododendrons, clouds, forest, jane bald, landscape, mountains, nature, north carolina, roan mountain, sky, tennessee
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