Located on the North Carolina/Tennessee state line, Roan Mountain is actually more of a mountain range about 5 miles long – called a massif – than it is a single peak. Famous for its Catawba Rhododendron gardens with its brilliant purple flowers in spring, the Roan is a wonderful place to visit and hike any time of the year.Even cross-country skiing is popular here during the winter, owing to the fact that the Roan Massif gets more snow than almost any other location in Western NC. It is one of the highest ranges in the Southern Appalachians, with peaks topping out at over 6200′. The Appalachian Trail – which is the main hiking opportunity on the massif – traverses the ridgetops while a few other trails wind around the area, including one fully wheelchair-accessible trail through the main Gardens area.
You can start hikes from Carver’s Gap, or from inside the recreation area during the warmer months. That’s when the road to the Roan Mountain Recreation Area opens, providing easy access to points of interest on the summit. A fee is charged to access the recreation area. Here’s an overview of what’s available from both starting points.