Monday, June 11, 2012
Roan Mountain Trip
Lora and I set out to explore the Roan Mountain Area. This is a week before the rhododendron festival, but everything has bloomed a week or two early this year. We were just on time! We got a room at Mountain Harbour B&B to stay at and used the appalachiantreks.blogspot.com for information on area sights.
We highly recommend the Mountain Harbour B&B to anyone that is going to stay in the area. A very nice place with a wonderful cook and owner. They are located just off the AT on Hwy 19 and have a hiker Hostel too. Or you can just pitch your tent in their yard. I recon it is already popular as we had about thirty people for breakfast on two different mornings.
We started out at the Unicoi Cherokee National Forest station, We bought all the maps we needed and got some more information on the area attractions. One being a covered bridge just down from the station.
From there we headed out to see some water falls. We started at Millstone Creek Falls. Well actually we started out on the wrong trail. You know it's all about the miles. We hiked a mile or so up a trail that came to a dead end. When we got to the car and actually read through the directions all the way, we were about 100 yards from the trail. The falls is only 150 yards from the road. Oh well, we needed to stretch out after the car ride anyways.
From there we went to the Cherokee National Forest and hiked to Sill Branch falls. Then we hiked to Pine Ridge Falls. Both of these hikes were about a half mile each. When we parked the car to hike to the Pine Ridge Falls, we found some black raspberries at the trailhead. We had to take a break for some refreshments. The falls were wonderful. After the falls we checked into our B&B and went for dinner at the recommended Smoky Mountain Bakery. We had a great pizza cooked in a stone oven right in the same room. We ate out on the picnic table next to the garden where they grow their own ingredients.
The next morning we and 27 other hikers enjoyed a wonderful spread for breakfast. It was beautiful! All home made. We also found that there were alot of thru hikers heading to Maine this time of year. We packed up and rolled out the door.
We headed out to Roan Mountain (6285ft). We parked at Carvers Gap and hiked the AT 2.2 miles up to the Old Cloudland Hotel spot. It is no longer there except for a small porch. From here we took the 1.2 mile Cloudland trail to the sunset overlook, the gardens, and then to the Roan High Knob. Sunset overlook had a beautiful view over the mountains. The gardens had paved walkways through the rhododendron and a viewing deck built overlooking the flowers. Roan High Knob was another great overlook.
We stopped at the Roan High Knob shelter on the way back and also stopped for a lunch break. Once at Carvers Gap we hiked the AT 2 miles to Round Bald, Jane Bald, Grassy Bald, and another .6 miles to Grassy Ridge. The balds were covered with rhododendron and the back side of Jane Bald with azalea. This part of the AT had more flowers than the gardens on Roan Mountain. It is also very popular as we meet many hikers.
We got in atleast 12.7 miles today. We headed to town and ate dinner at Highlander BBQ (recommended). Very good food here. Afterwards we drove to the trailhead of the AT on Hwy 19 to see how far it was from the B&B. Three quarters of a mile and we found our fellow resident standing at the trailhead. He had hiked from Carvers Gap to Hwy 19. So we gave him a ride back. That night we headed back into town to have ice cream at Bob's Dairyland. WOW!
Saturday morning we had breakfast with 17 other hikers. Then we headed out to Unaka Mountain Wilderness Area. We started out with a short hike and big climb to Red Fork Falls. Very beautiful and well worth the hike. Then we headed up to Stomping Ground Ridge for a short mile long hike to what we thought was a bald. The actual bald advertised was right at the beginning of the trail with a small campsite. We found out that it was also home to a very large rattlesnake. As Lora was about to step on it there was an ear piercing scream. No, not from the snake, from Lora. Lora jumped,I jumped, the snake jumped. Lora panicked, I panicked, the snake panicked. We did get some pictures after the snakes heart calmed down and he slid off the trail.
From here we drove to the Mountain overlook and then to the AT trailhead at 230. We climbed to the summit of Unaka Mountain (5180ft) and ate lunch. Then we hiked back down and hiked out to the Beauty Spot to check out the view. Lots and lots of wild flowers everywhere. After we got back to the car we drove to Rock Creek campground and hiked 2.3 miles to the Rock Creek Falls upper and lower. Another great day of hiking. 12.8 miles.
We drove to Erwin and had dinner at Dari-Ace cafe. Really good food there too. We headed back to the B&B.
Sunday we got up and ate breakfast with 30 hikers. We checked out and headed to Elk Falls which was just past the North Carolina boarder. A 0.2 mile hike and there it is. Afterwards we headed to Hampton and hiked 1.3 miles to Laurel Falls. Strenuous climb, but worth it. After that we headed into Elizabethton to see the covered bridge on 3rd street. We also walked around the block looking at historic houses. Then we ate lunch at Dino's. After lunch these happy hikers headed home.