Appalachian Trail Three Bald Hike

MODERATE 62 reviews
#7 of 114 trails in

Appalachian Trail Three Bald Hike is a 4.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bakersville, NC that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

4.8 miles 1219 feet Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

scenic driving

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Appalachian Trail - Three Bald Hike is a 4.8 mile easy to moderate out and back trail located near Bakersville, North Carolina that features expansive views, wildlife and beautiful wild flowers. The trail is accessible year round, weather dependent. Grassy Ridge, along the eastern flank of Roan Mountain, is the longest stretch of grassy bald in the Appalachian Mountains, and is an easy hiking destination starting from Carvers Gap. The Roan Highlands are traversed by the Appalachian Trail. Roan Highlands is a 20-mile massif stretching from Big Rock Creek in the west, to U.S. Route 19 in the east. Most of the massif lies along the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Roan Mountain itself contains five mountain peaks, and is divided into two sections by Carvers Gap. To the west of the Gap are Roan High Bluff and Roan High Knob, with Tollhouse Gap and Rhododendron Gardens lying between the two peaks. To the east of Carvers Gap is the section of Roan Mountain known as Grassy Ridge, which includes the three peaks: Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Grassy Ridge Bald. The bald area, spanning roughly 7 miles and covering an area roughly equal to 1000 acres, includes the summits of all three peaks. The Hike to Grassy Ridge Bald: The trail begins with a series of wooden steps leading up to the summit of Round Bald. Due to the awesome views and the short distance (roughly 0.7 miles), this first summit can be quite crowded at times. The farther you walk, however, the less crowded it becomes. Continuing northbound along the Appalachian Trail for another 0.7 miles (technically walking eastward) you reach Jane Bald. In between Round and Jane you lose and regain about 200 feet before reaching the 5807-foot summit of Jane Bald. Partially overgrown by rhododendron, the bald area atop Jane is much smaller than its two neighbors. Local legend has it that the peak received its name after a woman named "Jane" died of milk sickness while crossing the mountain. Milk sickness is poisoning by milk from cows that have eaten white snakeroot. Coming off Jane Bald you descend about 100 feet before beginning the final climb of almost 500 feet to the summit of Grassy Ridge Bald. At roughly 1.9 miles the Appalachian Trail takes a turn towards the left. At this junction you'll see a side trail that continues straight ahead. This will take you to the summit of Grassy Ridge Bald - the trail cuts through rhododendron thickets. After a relatively stiff climb you reach the huge grassy meadows atop the peak. The panoramic views from the summit area are spectacular, giving you a feeling of the Swiss Alps. On a clear day you can see Grandfather, Beech and Sugar Mountains towards the east, and Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains towards the south. Grassy Ridge Bald dominates the center of Grassy Ridge. At an elevation of 6189 feet, it's one of the highest grassy balds in the Appalachian Mountains. Scattered throughout the meadows on the summit, as well as along most of the trail, you'll find beautiful specimens of rhododendron and flame azaleas, as well as many wild flowers along the route, including the rare Gray's Lily that is indigenous to the area. Many people say that this stretch of trail is the most beautiful section along the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. Total round trip mileage for the hike is 5.1 miles, with a total elevation gain of 1150 feet. Roan Mountain State Park encompasses 2,006 acres of southern Appalachian forest at the base of 6,285 foot Roan Mountain. Park elevation ranges from 3,000 feet in the valley to around 3,700 feet on surrounding ridges. The park is located on Highway 143 southeast of Johnson City, TN. Reference: http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/roan_mountain.htm Reference: http://www.romanticasheville.com/roan.htm

hiking
5 days ago

We did this in the winter with temps in the upper 20s and it was pretty dang cold due to the wide open views. What I liked about this hike was the fact that it had great views most of the hike. You could choose to do the whole thing or stop before the end. We parked at Carvers and hiked up and found the trail easily. I'd recommend doing this on a day that wasn't freezing for a more enjoyable experience. Wind can get moving pretty well here.

hiking
8 days ago

Beautiful views!

18 days ago

hiking
27 days ago

What a gorgeous day for a hike! Like others mentioned you are exposed for the majority but that means amazing views the whole way pretty much! Few steeper climbs but enough level areas that you got a rest. Parking lot was busy but trail still wasn't overcrowded. Loved this spot!

backpacking
1 month ago

Great trail. We ended up sleeping near Jane Bald. Gorgeous in late October, but gets very windy and pretty cold at night. Obviously no water source. Super crowded during daylight hours. We parked at Carvers Gap and it worked out fine. Dog loved it.

hiking
2 months ago

This is probably the best hike I've done. It was a beautiful fall day. The clouds were great. Beautiful color in the trees, and the views were absolutely spectacular!

2 months ago

Easy hike to Grassy Ridge. Beautiful views.

hiking
2 months ago

As someone who only recently got into hiking, this is a fantastic hike.

There and back took approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes, including about a 45 minute break at the top to take in the views. The summit of Grassy Ridge gives amazing unobstructed 360° views.

Additionally, the weather (at least in late summer) is excellent. The high was in the upper 60's with a constant breeze. Another hiker who I spoke with mentioned it can get much cooler and very windy even during the summer due to the elevation and exposure.

I recommend anyone with pale skin take sunscreen or cover up on a sunny day as there is very little shade throughout this hike.

I highly recommend this hike and look forward to doing again in mid-late June when rhododendron is in full bloom.

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous views! I felt like I was in a scene from the Lord of the Rings lol. My boyfriend and I went on a very cold, blustery day in February. It was only 18 degrees outside, the wind was bittercold, the forested areas were covered with snow, the balds were frozen over, the trail was empty, the views were amazing and this area quickly became my favorite spot! I'm looking forward to going back in the fall to see all the fall colors :)

hiking
4 months ago

Great hike with even greater views.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful. Going back for blueberry and blackberry harvest in two weeks!

hiking
4 months ago

The hike was amazing. Parking is relatively easy to find at Carver's Gap and the drive up itself is worth it. The hike is a mix of dirt, mulch, and rocks. About 1 mile in, it becomes pretty rocky but very doable. A wonderful place to take amazing pictures and set up a hammock for a while.

hiking
4 months ago

One of the best hikes we have done! I would say only small sections of this hike were easy, it is more of a moderate hike. The views are amazing!

5 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Well, I have got to tell you..this is my new all time favorite hike! We hiked on 6/15/16. The Flame Azaleas and the Catawba Rhododendrons were absolutely awesome, they had to be close to peak.The trail condition is excellent to Round Bald and is in good condition to Jane's Bald after that the trail starts getting a little more difficult.This trail is shared by the AT until the AT splits off a little beyond Jane's Bald. Everywhere I looked there was a magnificent view. The trails are well marked. I will definitely return again..you just can"t get enough of this one.

5 months ago

An absolutely amazing hike!! Easy for all levels - even if someone cant complete the entire trail, they are rewarding with astounding views almost every step of the way from Carver's Gap. In June when the rhododendron is in bloom, this is hands-down one of the most beautiful hikes in the Southeast.

5 months ago

Was a perfect day for this hike. Rhododendron and azalea in bloom

5 months ago

Absolutely one of the best hikes right on the NC/TN border. Some of the best views around this region

hiking
7 months ago

Hiked it in March. Simply amazing!! Pretty easy hike, but very worthwhile especially if you keep going beyond the lookout point at the end of the trail. Seems like there were quite a few little trails along with the AT off of it too, but was saving that for when the flowers bloom. Lots of other hikers on the trail. You'll be exposed on the top for a while, so hat/shades, sunglasses, and sun screen would be your friend even on a cloudy day. Again, view are breathtaking and lots of cool rocks you can sit to rest and or picnic on.

hiking
10 months ago

Gorgeous trail with some unbelievable views! It took us a little longer than usual because it was covered with ice and snow, so beware and use some ice cleats if you have.