Adventures in the Southern Appalachians & Beyond!  






June 5th-7th, 2009 - Shannon and I had another fun backpacking trip with our friends Amy and Erick!  This time we took a 3 day, 2 night trek from Carver's Gap (near Roan Mountain) to Indian Grave Gap (near Erwin, TN).  This was a southbound hike on the Appalachian Trail... approximately 26 miles.


We started with chilly weather at Carver's Gap late Friday afternoon, and had a wet and misty hike across the mountain.  We made the summit of Roan (elevation 6285') where we took a little break, and then kept going to the old Cloudland Hotel site (for interesting historical info on the hotel, read more here).  From there we descended down to Ash Gap where we set up our tents and had a pleasant first night.  Even with the extremely wet conditions, "Eagle Scout Erick" was able to get us a good fire started. 


We hiked 3.0 miles on day #1.       



Starting in the Rain & Clouds at Carver's Gap

  Bill's Boots at the 6285' Benchmark on Roan Mountain
Amy on the Summit of Roan   Bill at the Old Chimney Near Cloudland
Shannon & Bill on Roan's Summit   Shannon and Amy Hike Into the Old Cloudland Hotel Site

DAY 2:  We woke up with sunshine on Saturday morning, packed up, and then made the steep and muddy descent down Beartown Mountain to Hughes Gap.  From there we climbed up to Little Rock Knob (elevation 4918') where we stopped for lunch, and to enjoy the amazing views from this sheer cliff overlook.              

Sunny Morning at Ash Gap   Shannon and Amy Arrive at Hughes Gap
Amazing Views from Little Rock Knob  

Unaka Mountain in the Far Right -

Tomorrow's Destination

Shannon at Little Rock Knob   Bill and Shannon
Amy Checking Out the Nice Views
From Little Rock Knob, we descended down into Greasy Creek Gap, where we passed Clyde Smith Shelter.  I felt the forests in this area where very pretty with thick green grass.  We saw lots of red efts, bird nests along the trail, wildflowers, and a deer almost ran right up on top of me.      

Eventually we made it to the old orchard near Iron Mountain Gap where we refilled our water supply.  We then crossed the road at Iron Mountain Gap, and started looking for campsites.  We saw an old logging road that was somewhat flat, and all of us were tired, so we decided to stop.

Erick again worked his magic with the fire, and we all had great dinners with tortilla wraps.  I think we all slept well.  We hiked 11.5 miles on day #2.          

A Red Eft   Lush Forests Near Greasy Creek Gap 
View of Unaka Mtn is Getting Closer - Taken Near Iron Mountain Gap   Tired!
Shannon in the Tent   Erick at Our Day #2 Campsite on the Old Logging Road

DAY 3:  We got back on the trail early on the final day and began to make our climb across Unaka Mountain.  We stopped at Cherry Gap to refill water before our steep ascent.  It was here that I just about knocked myself out when I hit my head on the roof of the shelter.  Of course, I got plenty of laughter and little sympathy...  What a great bunch of friends I have!  :-)  


By mid-day we made the summit of Unaka Mountain.  This is one of my favorite summits in the TN/NC area with the beautiful, thick Red Spruce forest.  The sun was bright, but inside this forest it's almost dark (see photos below).         

Shannon and Bill at a Nice Overlook   Bill & Shannon at Cherry Gap Shelter
Hiking on the 5180' Summit of Unaka Mtn  

Unaka's Eerie Red Spruce Forest Summit


We had a nice lunch in an evergreen forest just after crossing Unaka, and then made our way down the mountain to Deep Gap, and back up again to Beauty Spot.  We enjoyed the nice views here (as the name implies), but it was a little hazy so I didn't get any decent vista shots with my camera.  Here's a couple of my better pics from Beauty Spot from previous hikes:    here and here

Amy Relaxing at Beauty Spot   Looking Back at Unaka from Beauty Spot
Shannon and Amy   The Crew, Near the End of Our Hike

From Beauty Spot we hiked on down to Indian Grave Gap to end our trip.  We hiked 11.3 miles on day #3.

Total Miles Hiked:  25.8

Hike Rating -


Bill's Overall Rating:

Distance:  25.8 miles

Difficulty:  DIFFICULT

Type: Continuous

Vista Rating: 

Waterfall Rating:  NONE

Water Crossings:  few EASY

Scrambling/Climbing:  EASY, few MODERATE

Hazards:  slippery slopes, very steep areas and steps with some scrambling (some requiring handholds), avoidable cliffs

Significance:  Appalachian Trail, A.T. shelters (3), Historical (Cloudland Hotel site), County Highpoint (Roan Mountain - Carter Co. TN), rare forest (Unaka's Red Spruce)

Recommendation:  Advanced Backpack


Click here for hike rating reference guide.




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