Grassy Ridge Bald via Appalachian Trail

MODERATE 151 reviews
#8 of 136 trails in

Grassy Ridge Bald via Appalachian Trail is a 4.8 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
4.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1125 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.

hiking
17 days 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!

1 month 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!

2 months ago

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
2 months ago

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
3 months ago

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.

3 months ago

Best views!

hiking
3 months ago

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.

3 months ago

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.

4 months ago

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
4 months ago

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.

5 months ago

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
6 months ago

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
6 months ago

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.

6 months ago

Beautiful views!

6 months ago

The Views the Views , awesome!!!! This trail is a must.

backpacking
6 months ago

This trail is incredible. We set up camp on Round Bald and trekked up to Grassy Ridge Bald. The views are immaculate. The wildlife is abundant. We sat on the third bald taking in the views, when a beautiful doe walked right up to us, about 10 feet away! She watched us and continued eating, not a care in the world that we were there! There were lots of rabbits up there, as well.

6 months ago

absolutely amazing scenery the whole trail!

hiking
7 months ago

Incredible views! It rained pretty hard in the morning, so it was quite muddy with lots of puddles and muck and water running down the trail when we hiked in the afternoon. We parked at Carver's Gap and were gone about 4 hours. We hiked up to the Grassy Ridge bald and stopped for lunch and then hiked on further up to the next ridge - not sure of the name. The trail up to there was beyond narrow! But the views were superb. We loved this hike! I would have loved to have been able to come a few weeks ago to see the blooms.

hiking
7 months ago

You can't go wrong choosing this trail, it's amazing. Just make sure you make it to Grassy. A lot of people stop at the Rex plaque and turn back. Shame.

hiking
7 months ago

A beautiful, wonderful hike worth the two hour drive to get there! End of June and the weather was perfect. There are a few little spurs that you can take to check out different views, and a walked a little further on the AT, and then doubled back to Grassy Ridge Bald, to make the hike a little longer.

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