Jane Bald from Carver’s Gap

Posted By on September 24, 2021

Jane Bald from Carver's Gap

3.27 miles; 613 ft. total elevation; Roan Mountain, TN

Whew. It’s not a lot of mileage, but it’s probably one of the most spectacular hikes I’ve ever done. I got the idea to try to hit some sections of the Appalachian Trail, since it’s really not far from where I am nowadays, and I picked this hike because it includes a “bald,” or a mountain peak devoid of trees. Which is another of my obsessions.

American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana)

There’s a fairly large parking area at Carver’s Gap (also a bathroom—bonus!), which is right on the North Carolina/Tennessee border. The AT itself crosses the road just a little bit north of the parking lot, and there’s a little short trail that connects with it. There is a big field where the trailhead is and it’s filled with big shrubby ashes, which right now are chock-full of bright red berries.

The Trail

After connecting with the AT, the trail swiftly moves from the field into a hemlock forest which is in itself a lovely quiet place. Although, be warned, this is a very heavily-trafficked hike, so unless you go at dawn, you definitely won’t have it all to yourself.

NoBo on the AT

You pretty quickly come to the “bald” part of this hike, and the views from here on are simply amazing. I was fortunate that it was a beautiful clear day. And it’s really thrilling to come across the iconic white blazes of the AT, here marked in the travel direction. NoBo it is!

Eastern Agueweed (Gentianella quinquefolia)

So many cool wildflowers to see, too, even in late September. I love these bottle gentians—I’d never seen them before I started hiking in NC.


And here is the signage for Jane’s Bald, at over 5800 feet. There was more to see just beyond here, too…

View from the Bald


More View


And Still More View

I have so many photos of this view! But you can see what it’s like to be on top of a mountain peak with no trees obstructing things. It’s spectacular.

Wild Basil (Clinopodium vulgare)

Also, did you know there was such a thing as Wild Basil? Me neither! I didn’t ID it till I got home, so I can’t say if it smells like what we think of as basil, unfortunately.

You can find out more about Jane Bald (including the origin of the name) from this post on the Hiking in the Smokys blog. And as always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.


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