Grassy Ridge Bald via Appalachian Trail

MODERATE 232 reviews
#9 of 169 trails in

Grassy Ridge Bald via Appalachian Trail is a 4.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Bakersville, North Carolina 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.

DISTANCE
4.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,033 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

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. 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.

2 months ago

Great hike but you won't be able to find much isolation during weekend days. Very popular and accessible so you will have a lot of company. Probably one of the most scenic trails on the East Coast. Overnight camping should be included in your plans. Sunset and sunrise experiences are a must. Be prepared for damp weather, frequently encountered.

backpacking
2 months ago

I’m afraid I’ve ruined all other North Carolina hikes! This was my first overnight backpacking hike and a perfect trip! The sunset views were incredible. It rained on us overnight and we woke up in a cloud so we missed sunrise and will have to go back. By far the most beautiful place I have been on the East Coast!

camping
2 months ago

Incredible day today on this trail! A little crowded at first, but just like everyone said, the further you go, the more the crowd thins out. Rewarding views with each step!

hiking
3 months ago

Great family hike if it’s not the first time your kids are going to hit the trail. For perspective, our boys have hiked all of Stone, Grayson, and Crowders and are 8, 5, and 3: we didn’t have any issues. 8 year old breezed through, and it was just enough to push the 5 year old and make him feel like he really accomplished something. Packed the 3 year old on my back.

We started at around 10:45 and told the kids we would break at Jane Bald (the 2nd of the 3 balds on this trail). It was a good stopping point as most of the rigor in this trail lies between Jane and Grassy Balds.

The views are wonderful and are right up there (if not better than) the views at Grayson Highlands. Lots of great rock outcroppings which make for fun obstacle courses for the kids. It is a balds hike, so bring your sunscreen.

Bottom line: if all you’ve got is an ergo baby and this is your kids’ first foray into hiking, there are better starter routes that are less demanding but still fun. But if they’ve got a few reps under their belt, this is a trail that everyone in the family can really enjoy.

Amazing scenery! Many different species of plants. I think we saw 3 different species of goldenrod alone. Azaleas and blueberry plants were awesome.

4 months ago

this is a fantastic trail with views to compete with some of the best. difficult but well worth it

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful views and very worth it. There were too many babies when I went. Do not take babies passed the first bald. It becomes much more strenuous and easier to slip. Also the change in elevation will make them cry

5 months ago

Great hike and amazing views. We actually went farther then the Grassy Ridge spot. Trail goes about a mile farther then dead ends.

hiking
5 months ago

This trail has great potential for views and camping... but it is crowded which made this trail less enjoyable. As mentioned there are 3 Balds on this trail. Most of the load and obnoxious people stop after the first one, but a few continue on. It’s enough to ruin a hike.

The views are amazing though. It was pretty foggy on my hike but dissipated enough for me to catch a glimpse of the beautiful views .

This trail is not difficult, and that is why it stays very crowded .

5 months ago

My wife and I hiked this today and absolutely loved it. Our hike was actually a little over 6 miles, but the views were sooooo worth it. GREAT HIKE!!! Will repeat in fall.

5 months ago

Absolutely beautiful hike but it POURED on us!! And it rained for a good 45 minutes. If you are lucky enough to not hit rain, definitely go for it!

5 months ago

We did it twice. First day was gorgeous. Today was cool and rainy! Take rain coats or wind breakers because the weather is not always predictable! Great hike.

6 months ago

Very nice out and back trail.

6 months ago

Absolutely stunning! So glad we finally got to do this hike! We’ll definitely be back. Maybe for a longer overnight hike! We got lucky and had great weather. Chatted with a few kind strangers. Ooh’d and ahh’d ....our blue heeler mix went with us. She wasn’t a fan of the rocky path but did enjoy her mountain top hike. We started at about 1030-11a. It was definitely more crowded on our way back out around 1:30-2p.

backpacking
6 months ago

Went a few weeks ago. What an amazing and lovely hike through some of the AT. Could easily do this as a day hike if wanted, but if you’re given the chance to camp overnight, I highly suggest it! We left around 2pm from Carvers Gap and made it to the top around 6pm with a few breaks. The sunset and sunrise were absolutely phenomenal. It got a little windy during the night so be prepared for that. We were extremely lucky because it was in the 80’s with no rain clouds in sight, but the AT through NC is notorious for its rainy days. Especially through the Roan Mountains. There may also be several other campers at the bald as well. There were approximately 14 other people up there with us, many of whom had taken the best camping spots ( i.e - flat areas of land). Just plan ahead. Overall a fun hike and definitely something beginner backpackers should do!

hiking
6 months ago

Really enjoyed this trail. The section of the AT along the way has been improved greatly and is at times in excellent condition. There are several ascents and descents along the way reaching the destination. Multiple summits are achieved hiking along the trail and periodic entry and exit through dense Rhododendron and other brush and trees pay off with beautiful panoramic views. At times the terrain reminded me of hiking in Ireland.

8 months ago

great hike with amazing views. did it for sunset and was not disappointed. it was a little chilly (around 26 degrees) and very windy but if you're prepared it shouldn't bother you. lots of camp sites along the trail, hoping to do it again as an overnight

hiking
10 months ago

VERY cold day to be up there today! It was about 6 degrees with 40mph gusts at the top of Grassy Ridge. We started off in Carver's Gap when it was still snowing, but it cleared by the time we got to the top. The 2-3 foot drifts made it a slog, but we had the right gear to stay warm. It's hard to rate the difficulty of the hike due to the weather and trail conditions today, but I look forward to an overnight camping trip up there in nicer weather. One minor complaints is that the trail gets a bit narrow as it passes through the thick brush, and I hope it gets trimmed back before the busy seasons starts. It wasn't a big deal today, but people would get pretty scratched-up walking through there with exposed skin. All in all, a great hike!

11 months ago

Fairly moderate hike but it’s absolutely spectacular. We started about an hour and a half before sunrise and got to the top to see one of the best views I’ve ever seen in my life. It was January when we went so it was brutally cold. And we were lucky to go on a less than normal windy day but you can tell this area gets blasted with wind. A ton of ice on the trails which wasn’t terrible to tackle but just slowed things down. If your looking for a western NC hike, this is it. Just dress appropriately. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Nice group activity hike since the uphills aren’t bad and the views are as good as it gets (in the East)! There are plenty of great spots to stop and snack or take a picture.
While there are are a pretty good number of people on this trail in nice weather, they thin out the farther one gets from the parking lot.
One last thing and very important - this trail is very muddy (even in good weather).

hiking
Friday, November 24, 2017

Dad and I #OptOutside for Black Friday. It was a beautiful day on the trail. Muddy from frost/ice melt, but worth the views on the crisp clear day.

hiking
Sunday, November 12, 2017

Terrific views. Worth hiking all the way to Grassy Ridge Bald for 360-degree views. This is a mountaintop trail but doesn’t have any steep drop offs or cliffs, so never feels treacherous. Trail is rocky; good shoes/boots recommended. I took my kids ages 9 & 10. Lots of hikers had dogs with them. Trail was fairly busy on a sunny day in Nov, so I can imagine it gets crowded in summer.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Best views!

hiking
Thursday, November 09, 2017

Pros: I hike for a view, and for that reason, this trail became an instantaneous favorite. The views are spectacular. Also, the drive from I-40 is fun - nice roads through a cute town and some pretty views along the way. Cons: I prefer a harder climb, so if you're looking for work, this probably isn't your trail. That being said, a hike is what you make of it, and it is the AT, so you have the option to continue for as many miles as you choose. There are a few short fun climbs. Also, this trail is extremely popular, and tends to be busy. However, it seems that many people only go to the first peak, fewer to the second, and hardly anyone all the way to the third. Overall, definitely worth a visit. Best option is to come on a clear day during the week.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Easily takes "Favorite Trail for Views" award. Similar vibe to Max Patch, but with MUCH more expansive views. Trail could almost be rated as easy, but depending how long you decide to walk, elevation changes and distance earn the "moderate" rating. But overall, this trail is suitable for just about everyone.

This one earns a spot in my top 3 best hikes. Will definitely go back again.

Monday, October 16, 2017

I hiked to this ridge from Carver’s Gap a few weeks ago. It was a gorgeous place. The views are breath taking. I took my dog and he had an awesome time exploring as well. I went later in the afternoon and didn’t give myself the time to really explore the area fully. I’m planning an earlier start today and packing a lunch

hiking
Saturday, October 14, 2017

Really beautiful trail that begins on the NC/TN border. It is marked by a white blaze and will take you past Jane Bald. There are three major inclines, with the third being the largest one. This is a popular trail, so the earlier you arrive, the better.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Beautiful hike with expansive and stunning scenery. This is not a trail to hike if you want solitude. Very popular trail. The trail is rocky at times making it a little slower going to mind one's ankles. I look forward to returning!

backpacking
Sunday, August 06, 2017

What a great retreat. Super busy on the weekends. Wouldn't recommend Saturday mornings unless you camp Friday night and leave early.
It's a short out and back with some brief climbs through azalea scrub tunnels. Definitely worth the trip. Best views in the area and possibly the SE.

camping
Monday, July 31, 2017

We took our 4 year old hiking and camping here and it was amazing. It is a bit rocky and wet in some spots so make sure you have some good shoes. Amazing views! We ended up camping on Jane Bald and the view when you wake up in the morning was amazing as the clouds were all below us.

Load More