The Roan Highlands

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How was your weekend?

We took a long drive with a short hike on Thursday to Roan Mountain. I heard a lot of good things about it and thought we’d pack a lunch and check it out.

The mountain straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. We wanted to take a look at the nearby camping possibilities as well as the hiking, but found a lot of other interesting things while we were there.

The mountain is actually a series of peaks located in the Roan Highlands. There’s a nice length of the Appalachian Trail that crosses through the Highlands, and I found out that the Highland rocks are the oldest that an Appalachian Trail hiker will see on the entire route from Maine to Georgia. In 2000, the area was home to over 27 Proposed Endangered, Threatened and Sensitive species according to a paper written for UNC at Chapel Hill. I couldn’t find a current number, but suffice it to say that the Highlands are a unique feature of the Appalachians.

(Side note: if you are interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail, visit the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website for a ton of useful information.)

I hoped that our hour-long drive to the area would be full of colorful fall foliage, but not yet. Many of the leaves have already fallen, but our peak color isn’t expected to happen for another week or so. I saw lots of fun harvest decor fronting rural homes, though, and an occasional home with Halloween decorations.

We stopped at the Roan Mountain State Park Visitor Center on our way in. They have a small museum of historical artifacts from the local area as well as educational displays exhibiting flora, fauna and geology and a small gift store. The old waterwheel in front of the museum will be very pretty when the leaves change.

An old apple butter kettle. Makes me terribly grateful for my crock pot!
The watermill was part of an iron mine in the 19th century.
I love the harvest decor!
Part of the historical museum. Love the jugs!

About 20 minutes up the road was Carvers Gap and the trail head for the Round Bald Trail. It’s a super easy walk to the top of Round Bald and the views are definitely worth it. We took our picnic and chose a nice flat rock for a table.

As soon as I opened my bag of celery, two woolly worms started pestering me. They came from out of nowhere, but they certainly can move fast! I had to reposition myself a couple of times to avoid them. Not to be deterred, they persisted in crawling towards me. I never imagined celery could smell so good to an insect!

By the way, did you know that woolly worms can predict the upcoming winter weather? Supposedly, the more rust color bands there are on its body, the milder the winter is going to be. I think it’s more likely that it shows what last winter’s weather is like, but who am I to say?

I hope you enjoy the pics!

roan highlands
Walking the trail to the iron mine
My son takes a moment to enjoy the state’s favorite front porch hobby
The Roan Highlands
The trail to the Bald
A view from the Bald
Another gorgeous view
Another view!
The Roan Highlands
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