Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Unaka Mountain Balds

As if the view at the Beauty Spot wasn't enough...next time you visit, take the Appalachian Trail north for 1.15 miles. This fairly level (easy) hike will take you through woods filled with ferns and will soon lead you to another bald at "Deep Gap" that offers more views and lots of wild flowers. (Okay, the views aren't as great as those at the Beauty Spot, but it's still beautiful!). You could just as easily drive to it, as the Unaka Mountain Road (aka Red Fork Road) passes right by. However, the best way to experience and appreciate this second bald is to emerge from the woods up above and walk through the grassy meadows, following the white slashes (indicating the Appalachian Trail) on the fence posts.

No one really knows what causes these balds -- some blame severe forest fires, others say overgrazing of livestock or buffalo caused them. Today, the balds are periodically mowed to maintain the bald and to provide a habitat for wildlife. They offer some of the best panoramic views of the mountains.

Top photo: Deep Gap. Bottom: Beauty Spot.

Directions: From I-26 take the Erwin Main Street Exit (#36), at the end of the ramp turn east toward town and you will immediately arrive at a stop light. Turn right onto Rt. 107 and drive 1/2 mile, turn left at stop light onto Rock Creek Road (Rt. 395) -- continue on for 6.5 miles to TN/NC line (called Indian Grave Gap) and then take the gravel road to the left (you'll need to have a high clearance vehicle for this rough road). After 2.1 miles you'll come to a fork, stay right and you will immediately arrive at the Beauty Spot. Walk up the path that leads to the top of the bald and then turn left and follow the AT north for 1.15 miles to Deep Gap. Map

Click here for a post listing all there is to see and do on Unaka Mountain.


  1. Hey, thanks for this - we're on our way to stay there this week, will also check out the Beauty Spot. Will let you know what we experience - be back next week. Can't wait!

  2. Looks like the last big windstorm has taken out the signage but it's easy to overcome if you know that you take the left fork just BEFORE the NC/TN line sign, which is on the road that goes downhill to the right there. It was real hazy the day we were there, but very beautiful and I could tell that there were many many ridges and a lengthy view on a clearer day. The meadow was delightful and I can't wait to grab a picnic some late afternoon and go up there (1.5 hours drive for us) for a sunset supper. What a spot! On a scale of one to ten, this place is nearing eleven . . . . . loved it.

  3. Thanks for the info. Have section hiked it years ago and want to take my wife there.


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