High Country Trip Reports

High Country Photos

Roan Mountain

Appalachian Trail thru-hikers often pick Roan Mountain as their favorite part of the entire trail. This is for good reason, as the trail follows a high ridge that connects a series of grass balds. These balds provide great views, as well as habitat for shrubs like Flame Azalea and Catawba Rhododendron, and rare wildflowers like the Gray's Lily. Some of the hikes we've done in the Roan Highlands include:

Photos from a December, 2020 hike with Christy and the dogs to Cutler Falls in Avery County.    (Photos)
Photos from a June backpacking trip with Christy and the dogs in the Roan Highlands. We hiked from Cloudland on Roan Mountain to a campsite on the northern sub-peak of Little Hump.     (Photos)
Our April, 2018 hike to Grassy Ridge in the Roan Highlands. I started from Mollie Branch in the Roaring Creek Valley and hiked up the mountain. Christy hiked in from Carvers Gap, and we met on Grassy Ridge. We visited the ice cave (no ice) before heading back to Carvers Gap together.     (Photos)
Photos from our June, 2016 dayhike with the dogs from Carvers Gap to Grassy Ridge in the Roan Highlands. Roan Highlands photos.
Photos from my June, 2015 dayhikes in the Roan Highlands. The morning hike was with Brenda from Hughes Gap to Carvers Gap. The afternoon hike was with Matt and Rick from Carvers Gap to Grassy Ridge and back. Roan Highlands photos.
Photos from our May, 2015 dayhike from the Roaring Creek Trailhead to Grassy Ridge.
Photos from our October, 2014 dayhike with Brenda from the Roaring Creek Trailhead to Big Yellow.
Photos from my June, 2014 dayhike with Brenda from the Roaring Creek Trailhead to Grassy Ridge.
Photos from our March, 2014 dayhike in snow and high winds from Carver's Gap to Cloudland and Carver's Gap to Round Bald.      Photos
Our October, 2013 weekend trip featuring car camping on the Kistler Highway in Linville Gorge, and a dayhike from Roaring Creek to Big Yellow Mountain.     Photos
Photos from my May, 2013 dayhike with Brenda from the Roaring Creek Trailhead to Yellow Gap, Little Hump, and Big Hump.
My November, 2012 dayhike with Jack and Dave from Carvers Gap to Roan High Bluff in deep snow from Hurricane Sandy.     Photos
My April, 2012 dayhike to Little Hump and Big Hump.     Photos
Jack's account of our February, 2011 dayhike with Brenda to Little Hump and Big Yellow in deep snow.     Photos
My June, 2009 dayhike with Myron, Dorcas, Bob, Laura, and Joel from the Roaring Fork Trailhead to Grassy Ridge.     Roan Mountain Photos
My May, 2008 dayhike from the Roaring Fork Trailhead to Grassy Ridge.     Roan Mountain Photos
My May, 2006 dayhike from Roaring Fork to Grassy Ridge during prime wildflower season.
Our June, 2005 dayhike from Carvers Gap to Grassy Ridge in a scary thunderstorm.
Our December dayhike from from Roaring Fork to Big Hump.
My December dayhike from Carvers Gap to Round Bald and Roan High Bluff in fresh snow.
Our June, 2003 dayhike from from Hughes Gap to thenatural rhododendron gardens on Roan Mountain.
Our October, 2002 "engagement" backpack from Carvers Gap to "Diamond Bald".
Our June, 2001 backpack from Roaring Fork to Roan High Knob.
Our May, 2000 dayhike from Roaring Fork to Grassy Ridge.
Our November, 1999 dayhike from Roaring Fork to Big Yellow Mountain

Roan Mountain

Grandfather Mountain

It would be hard to find a more famous peak in the southeast than Grandfather Mountain. It's best known for a rugged trail that utilizes a series of ladders to connect its three peaks. Grandfather Mountain used to be private property, but is now transitioning into a state park. Entering the park still requires a fee, unless you hike in from a remote trailhead (Profile, Daniel Boone, etc). These hikes still require picking up a free permit. Some hikes we've done there include:

My December, 2019 solo bushwhack along Little Wilson Creek.     (Photos)
My October, 2019 short hikes at Beacon Heights and Rough Ridge before an App State football game.     (Photos)
Our October, 2017 dayhike with Darrin and the dogs in the Boone Bowl on Grandfather Mountain. Also included are photos from a short solo hike with the dogs to Little Lost Cove Cliffs.     (Photos)
My November, 2016 hike with Spencer and Stephanie on Grandfather Mountain. Photos.
My January, 2015 snowy dayhike with Bob J and the dogs on the Profile Trail to Calloway Peak.     Photos
My January, 2012 snowy dayhike with Bob J and Bob S to the Boone Bowl.     Photos
My September, 2011 dayhike in Price Park on the Boone Fork Trail.     Photos
Our December, 2010 dayhike from Beacon Heights to Grandmother Mountain.     Photos
My October, 2010 dayhikes to Rough Ridge and Storyteller's Rock.     Photos
My August, 2010 visit to the annual Grandfather Mountain camera clinic , along with a short hike on Grandmother Mountain.     Photos
Our February, 2010 dayhike with Boone in the snow on the Tanawha Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway.     Photos
My October, 2008 dayhike with both dogs from the Boone Fork Trailhead to an overlook of the Boone bowl..     Photos
My April, 2008 dayhike from the Boone Fork Trailhead almost to the summit of Calloway Peak..     Grandfather Photos and Upper Falls Photos
My April, 2008 dayhike with Patrick on the Boone Fork Trail at Price Park.     Boone Fork Photos
Our October, 2007 dayhike thru prime fall colors on the Tanawha Trail to Rough Ridge.    Photos
My June, 2006 dayhike with Myron and Dorcas up the Profile Trail to Calloway Peak.
Our October, 2005 dayhike to Calloway Peak.
Our February, 2005 dayhike in a blizzard to Flat Top Mountain.
Our November, 2003 dayhike from Cone Manor to Price Park, with a side trip to Rich Mountain.
Our December, 2002 dayhike on the Tanawha Trail along the south side of Grandfather.
Our August, 2002 dayhike from the Parkway all the way to McRae Peak.
Our September, 2001 dayhike up the Profile Trail and on to the Swinging Bridge.
Our November, 2000 dayhike to Cone Park.
Our September, 2000 dayhike in Price Park.

Grandfather Mountain from Price Lake

Linville Gorge

Below Grandfather Mountain, the Linville River carves a deep gorge that might be called the Grand Canyon of the southeast. For Fungirl's first backpacking trip, we hiked from the Table Rock Picnic Area to camp on the cliffs of Shortoff Mountain. This remains one of my favorite trips. Other hikes we've done in Linville Gorge include:

Photos from a December, 2020 hike with Christy in the snow to Gingercake Mountain, Sitting Bear Mountain, and Devils Cliff in Linville Gorge.    (Photos)
Photos from a December, 2020 exploration of an unnamed tributary of the North Fork of the Catawba River near Dobson Knob with David, Thomas, and Spencer.     (Photos)
My December, 2019 hike with Christy to Dobson Knob and Still Falls.     (Photos)
My September, 2019 hike in Linville Gorge with Darrin, Scott, John, Katie, and Erin. Darrin, Scott, and John waded and rock hopped the river around Babel Tower.     (Photos)
My March, 2019 hike with John to Laurel Leap near Linville Gorge.     (Photos)
Our June, 2018 hike to Little Shortoff in Linville Gorge, plus a hike to Yellow Fork Falls on the Yellow Fork of Paddy's Creek. We caught up with Spencer's birthday party at the falls.     (Photos)
In January of 2017 I camped with various members of Team Waterfall and bushwhacked to the waterfall on Stillhouse Branch and hiked the Rockjock Trail.     Photos
Our January, 2017 hike to John's Kitchen and Shortoff in Linville Gorge Photos.
Our October, 2016 hike on the Ledge Trail up and over Hawksbill. Photos.
My April, 2016 dayhike with Thomas and Kitty to Henson Creek, Westface Rock, and Fantasy Creek.     Photos
Photos from a February 2016 Team Waterfall exploration of Hurricane Wall in Linville Gorge.
My November, 2015 backpacking trip with Preston, Spencer, Scott, and more friends to John's Kitchen on Shortoff Mountain in Linville Gorge. Photos.
Three October, 2015 dayhikes to Hurricane Wall and Sitting Bear in Linville Gorge at the peak of fall color. Photos.
My October, 2015 dayhike with with Josh, Chris, Michael, and Wally on LOST (Lower Original Scramblers Trail). The route follows the original path of the Rockjock Trail, connecting Bluejay Point, One Bat Cave, Little Seneca, and Zen Canyon. It features incredible cliffs above and sheer dropoffs below. Also included are photos from a solo hike to Crabtree falls that morning. Photos.
The May, 2015 celebration of Spencer's birthday on Suzy's Knob, with an after-midnight hike to Russell Creek Cave and a hike to Steels Creek Falls.     Photos
My March, 2015 dayhike with Spencer, Stephanie, Darrin, and Mitch. We hiked off-trail from Kistler to the river, visiting Window Rock, Hummingbird Falls, the Linville Crags, a series of caves, and Cathedral Falls along the way.     Photos
My January, 2015 dayhike with Brenda and the dogs on the Rockjock Trail to Buzzards Point, a frozen Blue Jay Point, and One Bat Cave.     Photos
My December, 2014 dayhike with Brenda and the dogs to the Chimneys, the Upper NC Wall, and the Amphitheater     Photos
Brenda's report of our July, 2014 dayhike with Christy, Myron, Dorcas and the dogs to the Black Fork and the Yellow Fork of Paddy Creek     Photos
Brenda's report of our November, 2012 dayhike from the Spence Ridge Trailhead to the NC Wall and the Amphitheater     Photos
My October, 2012 dayhike with Brenda down Henson Creek     Photos
My February, 2012 dayhike with Brenda on the Rockjock Trail     Photos
My February, 2012 dayhike with Brenda to a relatively unknown waterfall on the Yellow Fork of Paddy Creek     Photos
My December, 2011 dayhike with Joel on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail from the Kistler Highway to Bald Knob     Photos
Our October, 2011 short hikes with the dogs to Gingercake and Sitting Bear Mountains in Linville Gorge, plus Little Lost Cove Cliffs and Green Knob.     Photos
My September, 2011 dayhike with Jack to Devil's Hole, Sitting Bear, and Hawksbill.     Photos     
My May, 2011 backpacking trip with Dave S. from the south end of the Rockjock Trail to Linville Falls.     Photos     
Jack's report on our March, 2011 dayhike from the Conley Cove Trailhead to Daffodil Flats and beyond.     Photos     
My January, 2011 dayhike with Jack and Bob on the Rockjock Trail.     Rockjock Photos     
My September, 2010 dayhike & riverwalk with Jack upstream along the Linville River to Linville Falls.     Linville Gorge Photos     Price Lake Photos
My June, 2010 dayhike with Jack from the west rim of the gorge to Table Rock.     Photos
My March, 2010 dayhike with Jack to Daffodil Flats in Linville Gorge.     Photos
My February, 2010 dayhike with Jack and Bob to Shortoff after a snow and ice storm.    Photos
My November, 2009 dayhike with Bob to the Amphitheatre.     Photos
My August, 2009 dayhike with Jack to Babel Tower, the Linville River, Fantasy Canyon, Futuristic Wall, Westface, and Henson Canyon.     Photos
My May, 2009 dayhike with Bob on the Mountains to Sea Trail from Woodlawn to Bald Knob, which overlooks Linville Gorge.    Photos
My March, 2009 dayhike with Jack and Bob to Daffodil Flats and the Rock Jock Trail.    Photos
My February, 2009 dayhike with Jack and Rocky to Babel Tower and the Linville River.    Photos
My January, 2009 dayhike with Bob and Joel to Sitting Bear and Devil's Cliff.    Photos
My April, 2008 dayhike on the Rockjock Trail.    Photos
My March, 2008 dayhike with Myron and Dorcas to Daffodil Flats.    Photos
Our February, 2008 dayhikes with Thao and Cammille to Table Rock and Linville Falls.    Photos
My February, 2008 dayhike from Lake James to Shortoff.    Photos
My April, 2007 backpack-turned-survival epic on what's left of the Rockjock Trail.    Photos
My February, 2006 dayhike with Jack from Conley Cove to Babel Tower and Pine Gap.
My October, 2005 dayhike from Steels Creek to Table Rock.
Our September, 2003 dayhike with our nephew, Nathan, to Table Rock, The Chimneys, and The Amphitheater.
Our February, 2001 dayhike to Babel Tower.
Our January, 2000 dayhike on the Rockjock Trail.
Another report on the above hike, as written by our dog, Saucony.
Our November, 1999 dayhike on the Sandy Flats, Linville Gorge, and Conley Cove Trails.

Linville Gorge from Babel Tower

Wilson Creek and Johns River

East of the Linville River, the Johns River and the Wild and Scenic Wilson Creek flows off of the south side of Grandfather Mountain. Wilson Creek is joined by numerous tributaries, including Harper Creek, Upper Creek, and Steele Creek. Each of these streams features significant waterfalls. The first significant backpacking trips of my life took place in the Wilson Creek area. In February of 92, I joined a college group for a trip to Lost Cove. After graduation, I talked several friends into joining me on a 4-day trip combining Lost Cove and Harper Creek. Since those days, some of the hikes we've done include:

Photos from a November, 2020 hike with Christy along Honey Branch in Caldwell County, NC.    (Photos)
Photos from a September hike with Christy on an unnamed tributary of Estes Mill Creek near Mortimer.     (Photos)
Photos from a June exploration of two creeks in Caldwell County with Zachary, Thomas, and Kitty.    (Photos)
Photos from a June hike with Christy and the dogs to the Teacups on Steels Creek.     (Photos)
My June, 2019 afternoon hike with Christy to Steels Creek Falls and the Teacups.     (Photos)
My June, 2019 hikes (two) with Jennifer to an amazing canyon on Gingercake Creek.     (Photos)
My February, 2019 exploration of Tough Hill Branch, a tributary of Racket Creek, with Beth. We found a waterfall on Racket Creek and seven waterfalls on Tough Hill Branch - 6 previously undocumented.    Photos
My December, 2018 exploration of the headwaters of the Johns River with John and Zach, featuring the discovery of five waterfalls.     (Photos)
Our October, 2018 hike to South Harper Creek Falls and Little Lost Cove Creek Falls.     (Photos)
Our September, 2018 hikes to Thunderhole Falls and Phillips Creek with Zach.     (Photos)
My September, 2016 dayhike with Jack, Kitty, Matt, Rick, and David to Raven Cliff Falls on Upper Creek.    Photos
Our August, 2016 dayhike with Jonathan, Leigh, Jonathan Jr., and the dogs to explore Buck Creek, a tributary of Steels Creek.    Photos
My November, 2015 dayhike with Darrin along North Harper Creek. Photos.
My October, 2014 dayhike with Brenda and Johnny to North Harper Creek Falls and Little Lost Cove Cliffs.    Photos
My October, 2011 dayhike to Harper Creek, Harper Falls, and South Harper Falls.    Photos
My August, 2010 dayhike & creek walk with Jack to Steels Creek.    Photos
Our November, 2006 dayhike to North Harper Creek.    Photos
Our September, 2006 dayhike to Big Lost Cove Cliffs and Little Lost Cove Creek Falls.    Photos
Our September, 2005 backpack to Lost Cove.
Our October, 2004 dayhike from highway 181 to South Harper Falls.
My October, 2003 dayhike with Joel to Little Lost Cove Cliffs and North Harper Creek Falls.
Our October, 2000 backpack to Harper Creek.
Our September, 2000 dayhike to Harper Falls.
Our March, 2000 dayhike from highway 181 to South Harper Falls.
Our October, 1999 dayhike to Little Lost Cove Cliffs and North Harper Falls.

Grandfather Mountain From Little Lost Cove Cliffs

Ashe, Watauga, Caldwell, and Wilkes Counties

Recreation in Ashe and Watauga Counties is probably best known for canoeing on the New River. Many people don't realize that it has an abundance of hiking opportunities as well. Some of the hikes we've done in that area include:

Photos from two September hikes with Christy and the dogs in the Three Top Mountain Game Lands in Ashe County.     (Photos)
Our December, 2018 bushwhack to a spectacular waterfall in Caldwell County.     (Photos)
Photos from a family trip to Mount Jefferson and a visit to St. Mary's Episcopal Church in West Jefferson to see the frescoes.     Photos
Photos from a solo, pre-dawn hike to Three Top Mountain. I hiked to Huckleberry Knob for sunrise, and the bushwhacked over to Big Rock.     Photos
Photos from a hike with Bob J on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail from the Parkway north of The Lump to the Cascades at Jeffress Park.     Photos
My November, 2013 half-day hikes with Brenda, Jonathan and Jess to Little Tablerock Mountain and Hanging Rock (Bear's Paw).     Photos
My October, 2013 dayhike with Rick to Gentry Creek Falls (TN), Rogers Ridge (TN), Glenn Bald, Pond Mountain, and Stone Mountain..     Photos
My May, 2012 solo dayhike to the summit of Elk Knob in Elk Knob State Park.     Photos
My July, 2011 dayhike with Bob and Laura to Snake Mountain.     Photos
My solo October, 2010 dayhike to Three Top Mountain.     Photos
My solo dayhike in April, 2010 to Three Top Mountain and a separate hike to Glen Burney Falls near Blowing Rock.    Three Top Photos and Glen Burney Falls Photos
Our dayhike in June, 2007 with the Nature Conservancy to Bluff Mountain.    Photos
Our dayhike in May, 2007 to Snake Mountain.    Photos
Our November, 2004 dayhike to The Peak.
Our November, 2003 dayhike to Three Top Mountain.
Our dayhike in December, 2001 to Elk Knob.

Paintbrush on Bluff Mountain

High Country Photos

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