Roan Highlands

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

June 13 to 18, 2015 - Sat to Thur (weekend open to either come home early, or stay in the area for other adventures, see itinerary below)

Cherokee & Pisgah National Forests, Tennessee & North Carolina

Motel for first night:
To be determined

DC 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). traverses some of the most beautiful areas of the AT. This section of the AT traverses the longest stretch of Balds in the world, 7 miles. It also traverses the largest Catawba Rhododendron garden in the world. Much of the route follows the TN/NC state line. This is a strenuous trip on rugged trails suitable for experienced, physically fit backpackers only - no ultralightsBackpacker Magazine rated this trip a "Quad Buster". 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 Sunday lunch to Wednesday lunch, plus energy 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 may be able to 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. This is a great photography trip so bring your cameras.


Trip Itinerary

Day Date Activity
Saturday June 13 Carpool from DC to Erwin, TN
Sunday June 14 Start Roan Highlands backpack
Monday June 15 On trail
Tuesday June 16 On trail
Wednesday June 17 Complete Roan Highlands backpack
Thursday June 18 Head home or stay for optional dayhikes or a second backpack
Friday June 19 Optional activities
Saturday June 20 Optional activities
Sunday June 21 Head home if you haven't already done so

Optional Post Backpack Activities

Dayhike in Grayson Highlands State Park, VA, this is on the way home, about 2 hr into the drive.
1-2 night Backpack or dayhikes in Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness, TN, roughly 2+ hr drive West of the Roan Highlands backpack.
1-2 night Backpack or dayhikes in Great Smoky Mountains, NP, TN & NC, roughly 2+ hr drive Southwest of Roan Highlands backpack.

I will most likely be staying in the area for dayhikes or a 2nd backpack, and driving home on Sunday 6/21. Right now I'm focusing on the Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness which has numerous beautiful waterfalls - great for viewing and photography.

Some Required Gear

  •  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, 4000 to 5000 cubic inches
  •  pack rain cover, or internal garbage bag
  •  small lightweight tent
  •  sleeping bag plus pad, rated to +35 F, most summer bags are rated this low
  •  light weight backpacking stove & fuel
  •  personal first aid kit
  •  water purifier/filter and/or water purification tablets
  •  rain suit - ponchos are not allowed it's potentially too windy above treeline
  •  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 - I don't recall a place to swim)
  •  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
  •  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 per day
  •  insect repellant
  •  mosquito headnet (optional, did not bring this or need it last time)
  •  40' of 1/8" nylon line for hanging bear bags
  •  dry waterproof bags for your sleeping bag, clothing, camera, electronics
  •  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 with participants.

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 Sunday lunch to Wednesday lunch plus energy snacks & drinks. Extra points for meals that pass the "Lick Test". Don't know what the "Lick Test" is? Read Colin Fletchers book "The Complete Walker" before the trip. We will go to a restaurant for breakfast Sunday morning, and dinner Wednesday evening.


Each person should carry at least two quarts or liters of water per day and replenish as necessary.

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 - but will include: motel first night, possibly last night, a car shuttle if we don't have enough cars to do it ourselves, gas for your driver. I am not planning on collecting money; each person will make their own motel reservation for the first night, and pay their drivers the car pool fee. We should have enough people to do our own car shuttle, if not we will have to schedule a commercial shuttle and share the cost.

Trip Leader:

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

Driving Directions to Carpool Location:

To be determined

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