Carter County High Point Trip Report

Roan High Knob (6,285 ft)

Date: May 2000
Author: Scott Surgent

I came in from the Tennessee side through Johnson City and Elizabethton, where the signs for "Roan Mountain State Park" began appearing. From Elizabethton, follow US-19E south (actually southeast) to the town of Roan Mountain. Turn south onto TN-143. The state park hq is a couple of miles up the road. Drive to Carvers Gap, which is at the state line. In all, it's 30 miles from Elizabethton.

There are two options -

Option 1: park at Carvers Gap and hike up the Appalachian Trail to the summit;

Option 2: drive up a paved road on the right to a parking lot and fee station, and hike to the summit.

I did a combination of both partly out of confusion. I parked at Carvers Gap and headed up the AT. The signs say it's 1.7 miles one way to Roan High Knob, but apparently I walked right past the spur trail all the way to the fee station, about an extra .7 miles. I knew I overshot it, so I backtracked and found the spur trail, which is signed only for northbound hikers! In other words, the sign is not at all obvious coming up from Carvers Gap. So I hiked up to the summit, passing a shelter along the way, to the rocky summit and the benchmark. On the way down I built a small cairn at the junction but it probably won't last. If you are coming up from Carvers Gap, the trail is steadily uphill with an overall gain of about 700 feet. There is a stretch where the trail is mostly level, then contours around the mountain and starts downhill. The spur is about 50 feet before this turn, coming up from the Gap.

What should have been a 3.5 mile hike turned into a 4.8 miler, although I'm hardly complaining. There are no views from atop Roan High Knob but there are good views periodically along the way.

One can also access Avery county (NC) highpoint from Carvers Gap by hiking north up the grassy balds.