Deep in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina and northeastern Tennessee lie the Highlands of Roan. This widely-known name represents one of the most beautiful spots in the Southeast, and perhaps the entire Appalachian Mountains. This series of mountain balds lies on the route of the Appalachian Trail, and quite a scenic of a hike it is. Whether you're coming here for the spring wildflowers, the autumn foliage show, or after a winter snowstorm, you're not likely to be disappointed (except it may be a little too cold in winter). Although only the most seasoned hiker will be able to do this physically difficult and tiring trek in a single day, there are several variations that can split this hike into several, and then, there's always the backpacking option. This hike occurred on Saturday, June 13th, 2015. My plan was to hike the Appalachian Trail from Carvers Gap over Round Bald, Jane Bald, and Little Hump Mountain, finishing at Big Hump Mountain. I would return the same way. I would also take the spur trails to Grassy Ridge Bald and Overmountain Shelter.
Kephart Prong, named after Horace Kephart, is one of the major tributaries of the Oconaluftee River. The headwaters of Kephart Prong are on the south side of Mount Kephart near the Appalachian Trail. This gorgeous balloon hike takes you from the confluence of Oconaluftee River and Kephart Prong deep into the Kephart Prong drainage, and then up a climb that will get your heart pumping all the way to Charlie's Bunion, a breathtaking vista of the Tennessee side of the Smokies and into the Tennessee River Valley. Your return route takes you past more views and even a couple waterfalls. This hike occurred on Saturday, May 23rd, 2015. My plan was to hike the Kephart Prong Trail to its terminus, and then continue on the Grassy Branch Trail. From there, I would take Dry Sluice Gap Trail to the Appalachian Trail, and take the Appalachian Trail over Mount Kephart and past Charlie's Bunion. I would continue by descending down Sweat Heifer Creek Trail and finishing the hike by going back down Kephart Prong Trail.
Southern Nantahala Wilderness: Deep Gap Branch Trail, Appalachian Trail (Deep Gap to Beech Gap over Standing Indian Mountain), Beech Gap Connector, and Beech Creek Trail, Tate City, Georgia
Southern Nantahala Wilderness is one of only two wilderness areas in Nantahala National Forest. However, it covers some very rugged and beautiful terrain across extreme southern North Carolina and a small section of north Georgia. The Tallulah River is one of the main rivers that eventually forms the Savannah River. Its headwaters are here. On this hike, you'll have a chance to see several of the headwater streams, at least two waterfalls, and an outstanding view. One thing though - be prepared for everything except an easy hike. This hike occurred on Saturday, March 7th, 2015. My plan was to hike the Deep Gap Branch Trail from the Dreamcatcher Cove Trailhead to its end on the Appalachian Trail at Deep Gap. From there, I would follow the Appalachian Trail to check out the vista on Standing Indian Mountain, this time in it's winter state, and then continue to Beech Gap. From Beech Gap, I would take an overgrown connector trail to Beech Creek Trail, and then continue down Beech Creek Trail to its end near the North Carolina/Georgia state line. I would finish the hike with a little roadwalk.
One of the most remote sections of Georgia's Appalachian Trail lies in Tray Mountain Wilderness. Are you ready for a rollercoaster ride? You better be if you're planning to do this hike. From the Moccasin Creek watershed, you will traverse eight, yes eight, mountains before finally reaching Tray Mountain and its excellent viewpoint. During most of this hike, you're going to feel like you're really out there in the wilderness - even the road leading to the trailhead looks like it. This hike occurred on Saturday, December 27th, 2014. My plan was to start this hike at the small trailhead at the end of Wildcat Creek Road. I would follow the old, gated section of Wildcat Creek Road to Addis Gap on the Appalachian Trail. From there, I would turn left onto the AT and follow it to Tray Mountain. I would return the same way.
The Appalachian Trail's southern terminus is located on Springer Mountain, Georgia. As the AT leaves the mountain, it traverses a watery valley, known as Three Forks, and then proceeds to follow long, dry ridgelines for the better of the next 30 miles. This hike is a prime example of the Georgia Appalachian Trail. Expect some views and some people - and a relatively easy hike. This hike occurred on Saturday, September 20th, 2014. My plan was to follow the Appalachian Trail, from Gooch Gap, north over Ramrock Mountain, through Woody Gap, and to Preaching Rock Overlook on the slopes of Big Cedar Mountain.
Appalachian Trail: Hot Springs (Silvermine Trailhead) to Rich Mountain and Roundtop Ridge Trail, Hot Springs, North Carolina
Hot Springs is a small, tourist town, with a lot of history and legends behind it. It used to be bigger, but following two consecutive hotel fires, the current resort there is much smaller, so there's not as many people as used to come. For hikers like us, though, the main point of Hot Spring is that the AT passes right through the town, and follows the Main Street sidewalk for a mile. On this hike, there will be multiple features of interest - Lovers Leap Overlook, Mill Ridge, and most importantly, Rich Mountain Fire Tower. This hike occurred on August 30, 2014. Start off by following a section of the Appalachian Trail from Silvermine Trailhead to Rich Mountain. You'll return by a much shorter, albeit steeper way down the Roundtop Ridge Trail back into Hot Springs.
The Nantahala River is a premiere location for whitewater rafting and water slalom. The Nantahala Outdoor Center is situated right along the banks of the Nantahala's rushing waters, and on a good weekend, you can expect at least a hundred people here. Meanwhile, there's something for us hikers too. The Appalachian Trail passes through the NOC, crossing the busy US 74 and the Nantahala River. The Appalachian Trail offers a couple destinations in this area, including Cheoah Bald and Wesser Bald. While both are not easy to reach, both have ultimate rewarding views. This hike occurred on Friday, July 4th, 2014. My plan was to follow the Appalachian Trail from the NOC southward to the Jump-Up, and then even further to Wesser Bald and its fire tower. I would come back the same way.
The Highlands of Virginia have a unique environment, and some of the best hiking in the Southeast. Apart from a few places in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest, I don't know of any other places like the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in Virginia. While Mount Rogers itself is not the most interesting mountain, the Grayson Highlands, Wilburn Ridge, and Pine Mountain - all that sits off the flank of Mount Rogers - provide incredible long-range views. This hike occurred on Saturday, April 19, 2014. My plan was to take the Appalachian Trail northbound from The Scales to The Pine Mountain Trail. From there, I planned hiking the Pine Mountain Trail to a point on the Appalachian Trail south of the original starting point, and follow the AT northbound to The Scales. I got to a late start in the late afternoon, due to the distance of the trail from my house, but I still thought I would finish it off shortly after dark. Not so fast, my friend.
Mark Oleg Ozboyd
Dear readers: I have invested a tremendous amount of time and effort in this website and the Georgia Waterfalls Database the past five years. All of the work that has gone in keeping these websites updated with my latest trip reports has almost been like a full-time job. This has not allowed me to pick up a paid job to save up money for college, and therefore, I I've had to take out loans. If you find the information on this website interesting, helpful, or time-saving, you can say "thanks" and help me out by clicking the button above and making a contribution. I will be very grateful for any amount of support you give, as all of it will apply toward my college tuition. Thank you!
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