Monday, November 26, 2007

Blazing a trail

For anyone who's ever hiked on the Appalachian Trail, the white marker in the photo above is a very familiar sight. The six-inch by two-inch rectangular stripe indicates that you are on the 2,000 mile AT which runs from Georgia to Maine. The blazes, as they're called, are usually at eye level and vary in their frequency depending on the terrain and how conspicuous the trail is. In places where the trail takes an abrupt turn or where the AT crosses another trail or road, you might find a double white blaze, which simply indicates the need to pay attention. Sky-blue blazes indicate a side trail to water, shelters, roads or towns. Click here if you feel the need to learn more about blazes!

The above photo was taken yesterday on the AT leading from Carver's Gap on Roan Mountain to Round Bald. It was a typical Roan Mountain day -- the winds were howling, the temperature freezing and you literally hike through a cloud. My favorite part of the hike up to Round Bald is passing through a dense pine forest -- There's something very eerie and mystical about it.

Directions: Take Route 19E to the town of Roan Mountain, turn onto Route 143 and travel 12.8 miles to the TN/NC state line (a.k.a. Carver's Gap). On your way up the mountain, you'll pass through the Roan Mountain State Park. Eventually, you leave the state park and enter the national forest. Park your car at Carver's Gap (you'll see a 'welcome to North Carolina' sign). The Appalachian Trail crosses Carver's Gap and goes up Round Bald to your left (as you face NC). Since they've rerouted the AT in this area, the climb to the top of Round Bald (about 1 mile) is much easier and much more scenic. Continue past Round Bald and you'll soon come to Jane Bald, and a little further yet and you'll reach to top of Grassy Bald.


  1. Hi Mark,

    I know this pine grove well and can smell it all the way here in Kingsport. When you walk through this, you almost feel a thousand little eyes watching you from behind the trees. They need to package that stuff and put it in a candle, but then again how could they?

  2. Just want you to know that I check your blog daily...I look forward to it every evening. Reflecting upon things I am thankful for.....and one of them is your blog. Many thanks from Rogersville.

  3. I was up on Round Bald a few weeks ago and took almost the same photograph. I really enjoy your blog and consult it regularly to look for new places to visit or new perspectives on old favorites. Keep up the good work!

  4. Like David said, you can almost smell the pines, and I can feel the peacefulness of this place, of this amazing trail. The sight of that white blaze sparks an excitement, just think you can walk for 2000 miles, seeing and experiencing sights like this one you have shared with us today. Thanks for taking us along!

  5. Nice blog I stumbled across. I ran 5 hours in that area in late December. Sleet, 50+ mph winds, horizontal rain. I ran an hour on the balds, but couldn't take the weather, so I went back into the woods past Roan Mountain. Planning on running Carver's Gap to Hwy 19 next week on hopefully a clearer day! Here's my account:

  6. I also took almost the same picture a couple of weeks ago. I loved the pine scented forest and the views from atop Round Bald were spectacular!


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