Roan Highlands

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Backpacking Trip:
Roan Highlands, Cherokee & Pisgah National Forests, Tennessee & North Carolina

Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia

June 16 to 22, 2013 - Sun to Sat

Cherokee & Pisgah National Forests, Tennessee & North Carolina
Grayson Highlands State Park, Virginia (on the way home)

Motel for first night:
To be determined

Carpool meeting time & place:
To be determined

Motel estimated cost:
To be determined

Trip Description:

This 42 mile, 12,500' elevation gain backpack on the Appalachian Trail (AT) from Rt. 395 at Indian Grave Gap to Rt. 19E Bear Branch Rd. traverses some of the most beautiful areas of the AT. This section of the AT traverses the longest stretch of Balds, 7 miles, in the world. It also traverses the largest Catawba Rhododendron garden in the world. This is a strenuous trip on rugged trails suitable for experienced, physically fit backpackers, and strong dayhikers (who have prior backpacking experience) only. There is a seven (7) hour drive each way to get to this area.

Each participant is required to provide their own gear and food. Plan on carrying food for Monday lunch to Friday lunch, plus snacks. Assume that fires are not permitted and that all cooking will be done on backpacking stoves. People who do not have the necessary equipment can rent the large items (tent, backpack, sleeping bag, stove) from some of the local backpacking stores. We will carpool to and from this area, and I will provide a list of participants. Trip size is limited to a maximum of ten people. 

We will also spend one day exploring Grayson Highlands in VA on the way home. This is geographically similar to the Balds in the Roan Highlands and also has wild ponies.

Some Necessary Items

  •  sturdy, waterproof, broken in hiking boots that fit you properly
  •  Teva's or equivalent for stream / river crossing and around camp
  •  two sets of socks
  •  properly fitted and adjusted backpack, 4500 to 6000 cubic inches
  •  pack rain cover
  •  small lightweight tent
  •  sleeping bag plus pad, rated to +35 F
  •  light weight backpacking stove & fuel
  •  personal first aid items (no scented toiletries)
  •  water purifier/filter and/or water purification tablets
  •  rain suit - ponchos are not allowed it's potentially too windy above treeline, they can act like a sail blowing you off a cliff
  •  extra clothes (include long sleeve shirt and long pants as well as shorts and T shirt), synthetic only
  •  base wicking layers, synthetic only
  •  insulation layer can be fleece, wool, or down
  •  swim suit (optional)
  •  sunscreen, sunglasses, hat with visor or brim
  •  light but warm knit hat
  •  headlamp, extra bulb and batteries or two lights
  •  baseplate compass readable to one or two degrees - declination correction strongly preferred - mirror for emergency signaling to aircraft
  •  topographic map
  •  toilet paper + trowel
  •  matches in waterproof container, fire starter for emergencies
  •  pocket knife
  •  whistle
  •  unscented biodegradable soap, wash cloth, backpacker towel
  •  backpacking food - see details below
  •  2 quarts or liters of water or energy drink
  •  insect repellant
  •  mosquito headnet (optional)
  •  40' of 1/8" nylon line for hanging things (optional)
  •  dry waterproof bags for your sleeping bag, clothing, camera, film, electronics (sleeping bag required, the rest is optional)
  •  drivers license, health insurance card
  •  sufficient cash and credit cards for gas, meals, and other expenses

Common Items

If people want to share tents, water filters, first aid kits, stoves, or meals, you can work that out for yourselves from the participant list which will be emailed. We really only need one stove, first aid kit, and water purifier for every two or three people. I will try to coordinate this somewhat.

Guidebook & Maps

Appalachian Trails Conservancy, Tennessee - North Carolina, Maps 1 & 2
Their Guidebook for this section of the AT

Health Problems

If anyone has a health problem that I should know about, please tell me before you pass out.


Bring more food than you would normally eat. As a backpacker, you will appreciate the concept of food as fuel. Bring things that are lightweight, tasty, and nutritious but also easy to prepare, cook, and clean up after. Also bring foods that will not spoil in the heat. Plan a menu from Monday lunch to Friday lunch plus energy snacks. Extra points for meals that pass the "Lick Test". Don't know what the "Lick Test" is? Shame on you, go back to square one, do not pass go, do not collect $200.00, and read Colin Fletchers book "The Complete Walker" before the trip.


Each person should carry at least two quarts or liters of water per day and replenish as necessary. The region is currently +15" of rain for the season so there will be plenty of water at the springs.

Leave No Trace

We will practice "Leave No Trace" backcountry ethics. This means that we pack out all of our trash and garbage. It also means that we do not use soap or shampoo to wash in mountain lakes or streams. Just swimming in the water without using soap works pretty well all by itself for getting clean. Use a folding basin and/or wash cloth and soap/shampoo a reasonable distance away from lakes or streams to wash more thoroughly. It's okay to use a tiny amount of biodegradable soap directly in the lake or stream just to wash your hands and face.


To be determined

Trip Leader:

Ted Fryberger
6259 Deep River Canyon
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: 443-917-2902Cell: 410-428-1868

Driving Directions to Carpool Location:

To be determined

Copyright 2000 - 2023 by Ted Fryberger & DeepSoft, LLC, All Rights Reserved