Roan Mountain Gardens Trail In North Carolina

Here is everything you need to know about the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: North Carolina
  • Length: 1.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking
  • Surface: dirt
  • Managed By: Tennessee State Parks
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Info not available.

The Roan Mountain Gardens Trail, located in the Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee, holds a rich historical significance. The trail dates back to the early 1900s when the idea of creating a public garden on Roan Mountain was conceived. In 1929, the Tennessee Eastman Hiking Club, along with the Appalachian Trail Club, began working on the development of the gardens. The project aimed to showcase the diverse and unique flora found in the region.

The Roan Mountain Gardens Trail was officially opened to the public in 1959, after years of dedicated efforts by volunteers and local organizations. The trail spans approximately one mile and offers visitors a chance to explore the stunning natural beauty of the area. The gardens themselves feature a wide variety of native plants, including rhododendrons, azaleas, and mountain laurels, which bloom in vibrant colors during the spring and summer months.

Over the years, the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail has become a popular destination for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and botany enthusiasts alike. It serves as a testament to the commitment of the local community in preserving and showcasing the natural wonders of the region. The trail’s historical significance lies not only in its establishment but also in the ongoing efforts to maintain and protect the delicate ecosystem it represents.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Carver’s Gap: This is the most popular access point for the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail. It is located on the Tennessee-North Carolina border and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

2. Roan High Knob: This access point is located near the Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee. It provides access to the Roan High Knob Shelter and offers panoramic views of the Appalachian Mountains.

3. Roan High Bluff: This trailhead is located on the North Carolina side of Roan Mountain. It offers access to the Roan High Bluff Overlook, which provides breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

4. Cloudland Trailhead: This access point is located near the Cloudland Hotel site on the Tennessee side of Roan Mountain. It offers access to the Cloudland Trail, which leads to various scenic spots on the mountain.

5. Carver’s Gap to Grassy Ridge Bald: This section of the trail is a popular hike that offers stunning views of the Roan Highlands. It starts at Carver’s Gap and leads to the summit of Grassy Ridge Bald.

6. Roan Mountain Gardens: This section of the trail is known for its beautiful wildflower displays. It can be accessed from various points along the trail, including Carver’s Gap and Roan High Knob.

7. Roan Mountain State Park: This park offers multiple access points to the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail. Visitors can start their hike from the park’s campground or from various trailheads within the park.

8. Roan Mountain Visitor Center: Located near Carver’s Gap, the visitor center provides information about the trail and the surrounding area. It is a great starting point for hikers looking to explore the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail.

Transportation Available

1. Roan Mountain Shuttle – Shuttle service providing transportation to and from Roan Mountain Gardens Trail.
2. Roan Mountain State Park Shuttle – Shuttle service offering convenient transportation within Roan Mountain State Park.
3. Roan Mountain Taxi – Local taxi service available for transportation needs in the Roan Mountain area.
4. Roan Mountain Rideshare – Rideshare service connecting travelers to and from Roan Mountain Gardens Trail.
5. Roan Mountain Bike Rentals – Bike rental service for exploring the trail and surrounding areas on two wheels.


The amenities available at the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail may include:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail for visitors’ convenience.

2. Parking: There should be designated parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles while accessing the trail.

3. Camping Sites: Depending on the trail regulations and management, there might be designated camping sites or nearby campgrounds where visitors can set up their tents or campers.

4. Picnic Areas: There may be designated picnic areas along the trail or at the trailhead where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack amidst the natural surroundings.

5. Visitor Center: Some trails have visitor centers or information kiosks where visitors can obtain maps, trail guides, and learn more about the area’s flora, fauna, and history.

6. Interpretive Signage: Along the trail, there may be interpretive signage providing information about the local ecosystem, wildlife, and points of interest.

7. Benches or Seating: To provide resting spots along the trail, there may be benches or seating areas strategically placed for visitors to take a break and enjoy the scenery.

8. Drinking Water: Depending on the trail’s length and location, there may be drinking water stations or fountains available for visitors to refill their water bottles.

It is important to note that the availability of these amenities may vary, and it is recommended to check with the local park or trail management for the most up-to-date information.

Nearby Services

1. Roan Mountain State Park Campground – Campground with RV and tent sites, located within Roan Mountain State Park.
2. Roan Mountain Bed and Breakfast – Cozy B&B offering comfortable accommodations and breakfast, situated near Roan Mountain Gardens Trail.
3. Mountain Harbour Bed and Breakfast – Charming B&B with scenic views, providing lodging options close to the trail.
4. Cloudland Hotel – Historic hotel offering rooms and dining options, conveniently located near Roan Mountain Gardens Trail.
5. Roan Mountain Grocery – Local grocery store providing food and supplies for hikers and visitors.
6. Roan Mountain Restaurant – Casual eatery serving a variety of dishes, including local specialties.
7. Roan Mountain Medical Center – Medical facility offering emergency services and healthcare assistance in the area.

Roan Mountain Gardens Trail Difficulty Notes

The Roan Mountain Gardens Trail offers a moderate difficulty level for hikers. The trail is approximately 1.5 miles long and features a gradual incline, making it accessible for most fitness levels. However, there are some steeper sections and uneven terrain that may require careful footing. Additionally, the trail can become muddy and slippery after rainfall, adding to the challenge. Overall, while the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail is not overly strenuous, it still provides a satisfying hike with beautiful views and a sense of accomplishment.

Features And Attractions

The Roan Mountain Gardens Trail is known for its stunning scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. Roan Mountain State Park: The trail starts at Roan Mountain State Park, which offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The park also has a variety of recreational activities, including camping, hiking, and fishing.

2. Roan Mountain Rhododendron Gardens: This is one of the main highlights of the trail. The gardens are famous for their vibrant displays of rhododendron blooms, especially during the peak season in mid-June. It’s a breathtaking sight to see thousands of blooming rhododendrons covering the mountainside.

3. Cloudland Hotel Site: As you hike along the trail, you’ll come across the remnants of the historic Cloudland Hotel. This grand hotel was built in the late 1800s and was a popular destination for wealthy tourists seeking the cool mountain air. Although the hotel no longer stands, you can still see the foundation and imagine its former glory.

4. Grassy Ridge Bald: This is one of the highest points along the trail, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It’s a great spot to take in the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and enjoy a picnic.

5. Carver’s Gap: Located near the trailhead, Carver’s Gap is a popular stopping point for hikers. It offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and is the starting point for several other trails, including the Appalachian Trail.

6. Roan High Knob: This is the highest peak in the Roan Mountain range, standing at an elevation of 6,285 feet. From the summit, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

7. Natural Gardens: Apart from the rhododendron gardens, the trail also passes through other natural gardens filled with a variety of wildflowers, including flame azaleas, mountain laurel, and wild bergamot. These colorful displays add to the beauty of the trail.

8. Wildlife: The Roan Mountain area is home to a diverse range of wildlife. While hiking the trail, you may encounter various species of birds, deer, black bears, and other animals.

These are just a few of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can experience along the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail.

Usage Guidelines

– Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.
– No camping or overnight stays are allowed on the trail.
– Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
– Hunting or trapping is strictly prohibited.
– No littering or dumping of any kind is allowed.
– Collection or removal of plants, animals, rocks, or artifacts is prohibited.
– Open fires are not allowed on the trail.
– No smoking is permitted on the trail.
– Visitors are expected to stay on designated trails and not venture off into restricted areas.
– Use of drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles is not allowed.
– Visitors are encouraged to respect the natural environment and wildlife.
– Seasonal restrictions may apply, such as closures during extreme weather conditions or maintenance periods.

Seasonal Information

The Roan Mountain Gardens Trail, located in the beautiful Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee, offers visitors a stunning display of natural beauty throughout the year. However, the best times to visit this trail depend on your preferences and what you hope to experience.

One of the most popular times to visit the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail is during the spring and summer months, particularly from late May to early July. This is when the trail is adorned with a vibrant array of blooming rhododendrons and azaleas, creating a breathtaking sight. The trail becomes a colorful paradise as these flowers blanket the landscape, attracting photographers, nature enthusiasts, and hikers alike. The mild temperatures during this time also make it pleasant for outdoor activities.

Another great time to visit the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail is during the fall season, from late September to early November. The trail transforms into a picturesque scene as the leaves of the surrounding trees change into vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. The crisp autumn air and the stunning foliage make for a memorable hiking experience. Additionally, this time of year offers fewer crowds compared to the peak summer season, allowing visitors to enjoy the trail in a more serene and peaceful atmosphere.

It is important to note that the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail has seasonal closures during the winter months. Typically, the trail is closed from December to March due to inclement weather conditions, including snow and ice. During this time, it is not accessible to visitors, ensuring their safety. However, the closure period may vary depending on weather conditions, so it is advisable to check with the park authorities for the most up-to-date information before planning your visit.


1. Paved Pathway: The Roan Mountain Gardens Trail features a paved pathway, allowing wheelchair users to navigate the trail easily.
2. Accessible Parking: Designated accessible parking spaces are available near the trail entrance, ensuring convenient access for individuals with disabilities.
3. Wheelchair-Accessible Restrooms: Accessible restrooms equipped with wheelchair-friendly facilities are located near the trailhead.
4. Handrails: The trail is equipped with sturdy handrails along certain sections, providing additional support and stability for individuals with mobility challenges.
5. Benches: Several benches are strategically placed along the trail, offering resting spots for wheelchair users or those who may need a break.
6. Signage: Clear and visible signage is present throughout the trail, including accessible symbols and directional information, aiding individuals with visual impairments.
7. Assistance Animals: Service animals are permitted on the trail, ensuring individuals with disabilities have the necessary support during their visit.
8. Accessible Picnic Areas: Wheelchair-accessible picnic areas are available near the trail, allowing visitors to enjoy a meal or snack in a comfortable setting.
9. Accessible Viewing Platforms: The trail features accessible viewing platforms at certain points, providing wheelchair users with opportunities to enjoy the surrounding natural beauty.
10. Slope and Grade: The trail is designed with gentle slopes and manageable grades, ensuring a smooth and accessible experience for wheelchair users.

Safety Information

1. Stay on the designated trail: To protect the fragile ecosystem and prevent accidents, it is important to stick to the marked trail at all times.

2. Wear appropriate footwear: Choose sturdy and comfortable shoes with good traction to navigate the sometimes uneven and rocky terrain.

3. Carry enough water: Ensure you have an ample supply of water to stay hydrated during your hike, especially on hot days.

4. Dress in layers: The weather on Roan Mountain can change quickly, so wearing layers allows you to adjust to temperature fluctuations.

5. Check the weather forecast: Before heading out, check the weather conditions to be prepared for any potential storms or adverse weather.

6. Be cautious of wildlife: While encounters are rare, be aware of your surroundings and respect the natural habitat of any wildlife you may encounter.

7. Use insect repellent: Protect yourself from ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects by applying an effective insect repellent.

8. Carry a map and compass: Familiarize yourself with the trail map and carry a compass to ensure you stay on the right path.

9. Hike with a buddy: It’s always safer to hike with a companion, so consider going with a friend or joining a hiking group.

10. Inform someone of your plans: Let a trusted person know your hiking plans, including the trail you’ll be on and your estimated return time.

11. Pack essential supplies: Bring a first aid kit, sunscreen, a hat, snacks, and any other necessary items to ensure your safety and comfort.

12. Stay alert and be cautious: Pay attention to your surroundings, watch your step, and be cautious of any potential hazards along the trail.

13. Leave no trace: Respect the environment by packing out all trash and leaving the trail as you found it, preserving its natural beauty for others to enjoy.

14. Follow any posted rules and regulations: Be aware of any specific rules or regulations for the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail and adhere to them for everyone’s safety and enjoyment.

Conservation Notes

The Roan Mountain Gardens Trail, located in the Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee, holds a significant conservation status due to its unique and fragile ecosystem. The trail traverses through a diverse range of habitats, including spruce-fir forests, grassy balds, and rhododendron thickets, making it a critical area for conservation efforts.

One of the primary conservation concerns for the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail is the protection of its rare and endangered plant species. The trail is home to several endemic plants, such as the Roan Mountain bluet and the Gray’s lily, which are found only in this specific region. These plants face threats from habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change, making their conservation a top priority.

Furthermore, the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail is an important habitat for various wildlife species. The spruce-fir forests provide shelter for several bird species, including the threatened golden-winged warbler and the endangered Carolina northern flying squirrel. The grassy balds attract a diverse range of pollinators, including butterflies and bees, which play a crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem’s health. Protecting these habitats and the wildlife they support is essential for maintaining the overall conservation status of the trail.

Efforts are underway to conserve the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail and its surrounding areas. Conservation organizations, park authorities, and local communities collaborate to implement measures such as habitat restoration, invasive species management, and public education programs. These initiatives aim to preserve the unique biodiversity of the trail and ensure its long-term sustainability. By actively managing and protecting this fragile ecosystem, the conservation status of the Roan Mountain Gardens Trail can be maintained, allowing future generations to enjoy its natural beauty and ecological significance.

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