Roan Mountain and the Roan Highlands are considered to be one of the most beautiful and most scenic spots along the Appalachian Trail. Roan Mountain itself is a 20-mile massif stretching from Big Rock Creek to U.S. Route 19. Roan also boasts the world largest natural rhododendron garden, which brings people from all over during their peak blooming period. Cherokee National Forest and Pisgah National Forest also converge along the top of Roan Mountain. Roan Mountain consists of 5 peaks; Roan High Bluff, Roan High Knob, Round Bald, Jane Bald and Grassy Ridge Bald. Yellow Mountain and Hump Mountain make up the northern fringe of the Roan Highlands.
Roan Mountain has become one of the more popular spots for anyone who loves the outdoors; most come here to camp, hike and enjoy the 360-degree view found along the grassy balds of the Roan Highlands. Hiking through the Roan Highlands you will notice a lot of rhododendron, fire azalea and the spruce fir forest. The rhododendron hit their peak late June and the crowds are considerably larger during this period.
The Appalachian Trail runs the stretch of Roan Mountain and the Roan Highlands. The Roan High Knob shelter is the highest shelter along the Appalachian Trail and Roan Mountain is the only point along the Appalachian Trail that rises over the 6,000-foot mark. The Overmountain Shelter is also one of the more popular shelters along the Appalachian Trail, mainly because it’s a bright red, two-story barn and the scenic view at the shelter.
Roan Mountain State Park sits at the base of the mountain where you can also rent a cabin and be right at the footsteps of the highlands. There is also a Roan Mountain Rhododendron Festival that takes place the third weekend in June and has been sponsored by the Roan Mountain Citizens Club. Over a 100 local artisans and craft makers bring many of the items they specialize in for purchase and the festival offers live music for entertainment.
Roan Mountain and the Roan Highlands are a must see, they show off some of the best natural beauty found in the Appalachian Region and along the Appalachian Trail. You don’t have to be a thru hiker to enjoy these views, you can come for a couple hours or just make it a nice day hike. The photos below are just a small sampling of the beauty Roan Mountains and the Roan Highlands hold.