Grassy Ridge Bald via Appalachian Trail

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Pisgah National Forest

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

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

muddy

rocky

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.

1 day ago

I can't imagine giving this hike less than 5 ! I took my dog, 6 year old lab, and while he could do it... the trail is very rocky especially in the climbing sections. I think the best part about Carvers Gap hikes is you never know about the weather until you get there. Come prepared for it all. We left Johnson City at 80° and it was 66° at the parking lot. During the hike the weather was a mixture of sun, clouds, rain, wind and more sun. During warm weather hiking from Carvers Gap is like walking in natural air conditioning. The hike is tough at times between the Balds but nothing overly strenuous. If you haven't done this hike the go! If you have I know you'll go again. MANY hikers say this is the prettiest section of the AT... I agree. Check out my pictures!

hiking
4 days ago

Great 360 views

hiking
4 days ago

Walked all 3 balds (Round, Jane, and Grassy Ridge) and back at 4.7 miles. It was the most gorgeous trail I have ever been on! 360 degree views the entire time! Hiked with my family (kids are 9 & 11) and they were tired, but also very glad we went. It was warm (we didn’t expect) and we got pretty sunburned. In mid June the entire mountain will be covered in rhododendrons, and I need to come back again during that time. Most people turned back after Round bald, so it was kinda crowded at first but it thinned out. 10/10 Stars. Would do this Trail again everyday of my life if I lived near.

Amazing hike and unique landscape, only reason I didn’t rate 5 stars is because I think we missed peak season. Wild flowers weren’t in bloom yet which I think would have made this hike incredible. Will be back!

backpacking
14 days ago

Well worth it. Trail is in good shape, but has some rocky climbs to the numerous balds. All doable, but will certainly slow you down. Busy parking lot the weekend night, with families and friends all out hiking to the closer balds. Backpacked to the peak where there were about 10 other tents come sundown, and peaceful hike down in the morning with the trail shared with me and a few trail runners. Plenty of alone time, but never feel like you're more than five minutes away from someone or even your car, which is reassuring.

Beautiful hike with amazing views! Definitely cooler up there than expected like other reviews mentioned.

hiking
18 days ago

One of the most scenic hikes in western NC. Fairly short but a great hike with 360 views of the mountains 80-90% of the hike.

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
snow
19 days ago

One of the best hikes I have done!!!! Super windy and chilly when I went the second weekend in May. AMAZING views!! Note on Directions: When I went the trail maps were frozen over so you cannot read them. The trail starts across from the Carvers Gap entrance sign in between the wood log fence.

Bit crowded up to the first bald, but traffic thinned as we continued to Jane’s and then Grassy. Well-maintained trail, a bit muddy due to a torrential rain two days prior. Cold winds with little protection - dress warmer than the temperature indicates. Clear blue day provided spectacular views miles and miles into TN and NC. In 2-3 weeks the rhododendrons will start blooming and the hike will be absolute magic. Can’t wait to return.

hiking
26 days ago

First time hiking a bald and the terrain is very unique. Cool hike.

hiking
27 days ago

Hiked for sunset...absolutely beautiful. Did miss the veer off of the AT but figured it out pretty quickly. Whoopsie! It was super chilly and windy but totally worth it! Lovely!

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

As the description says, this hike is the longest uninterrupted stretch of balds (mountaintop meadows) on the AT. As another reviewer stated, this hike includes nearly continuous 360° views of the surrounding mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. I can’t think of a more accessible, beautiful hike in our area. Just doing the first mile to Round Bald is worth the trip. Religious experience up here. Almost always windy and 15° cooler than on the ground. Highly recommend.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful views and moderately challenging! Look forward to next time!

hiking
muddy
no shade
rocky
2 months ago

I hiked this for the first time in July, and just made a visit back on a beautiful March day. It was in the 70s in Charlotte, but in the 40s (and WINDY!) at elevation. I wished I hadn't ditched my winter layers, but I was ok and only a little chilly in a long-sleeved synthetic t-shirt and a fleece. It's just as beautiful, in a different way, before everything turns green! The trail was rockier than I'd remembered, with running water in parts- but not bad as long as you have appropriate shoes. Since people are probably wondering at this strange moment, on a Saturday afternoon (I got there around 1:30), the parking lot was pretty full and there were people on the trail, but with the wide open balds I didn't feel like I was uncomfortably close to people other than a couple times I had to pass/be passed by someone where the trail was narrow.

hiking
2 months ago

Would highly recommend this trail for new hikers or people who are interested in hiking. Every step was nearly 360 views. Took both pups (1 yr and 2 yr) with me and they did great. It was overcast, but you are likely to still get red or even a minor sun burn due to full time exposure (cloudy or not). Bring sunblock!

hiking
muddy
2 months ago

Took my dog with no issue at all. Wasn’t very busy at all, but we went on a weekday. Would definitely recommend to anyone coming in this area! Crossed off a bucket list hiking some of the Appalachian trail. Beautiful Mountain views almost the entire hike.

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

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3 months ago

Absolutely awesome! Some icy parts, micro spikes would have been nice to have on me. Can’t wait to go back. Well Worth the drive from Charlotte.

hiking
3 months ago

If you live in the area a perfect hike to do several times a year to see the wonders of the Roan

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