Escape from the heat of summer on the Appalachian Trail

With the start of the school year just around the corner, we thought we’d share with you one last vacation spot. Blair president Carolyn takes us on a trip to mountains on the North Carolina/Tennessee border–with, of course, her golden retriever Carmen.


My husband Alton and I love to hike the grassy balds that straddle the border between Tennessee and North Carolina near Roan Mountain. This summer, we introduced our one-year-old golden retriever, Carmen, to the Appalachian Trail (AT).

We began our journey at the end of Roaring Creek Road in Avery County, where we followed the Overmountain Victory Trail to Yellow Mountain Gap. From the gap,  near a barn-like Overmountain shelter frequented by hikers, we headed up Yellow Mountain on the AT. Our destination was the summit of Little Hump Mountain.

Over the years, we’ve discovered a little-known side trail that allows us to loop back to Roaring Creek, but this trip we had to do some serious bushwhacking to get around trees that fell across the trail during this past winter’s serious ice storms. Despite these obstacles, it was a perfect day for a hike. And Carmen adapted readily to maintaining trail formation between the leader, Alpha Dog Alton, and me, bringing up the rear.

We also went to another spot on the AT called “the Hump” or Hump Mountain. Hump Mountain is the northern end of what is called the Roan Highlands. From here, you can see Grandfather Mountain, Table Rock & Hawksbill, Grayson Highlands, and over into Tennessee. On this second trip, we hiked up from the Tennessee side along Shell Creek, heading toward Doll’s Flats. Although this nice trail traveled alongside the cascading creek for much of the route, it eventually climbed straight up for elevation gain of about 2,000 feet. Whew! Although it was 90 degrees in the valleys below, we had to don our jackets because of the strong winds on top of the Hump.


If you’d like to read more about the balds and Roan Mountain, check back in with us tomorrow for an excerpt from Touring the East Tennessee Backroads. You can find directions to these hiking spots and more in the book as well.


4 thoughts on “Escape from the heat of summer on the Appalachian Trail

  1. There’s nothing like a gorgeous day on the AT with your favorite canine companion. And, if it’s not gusty on the balds, rippling the hair of a golden retriever, it somehow just doesn’t measure up in their eyes. Nice photos.

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