I haven’t done as much hiking as I’d like so far this year, but I’m happy to report that my sole 2023 hike almost makes up for the fact that I’ve spent more time this year in Asheville inside than outside.
The Roan Highlands hike from Carver’s Gap to Grassy Ridge Bald is among my favorite hikes in Western North Carolina. It’s a bit of a drive—a solid 1.5 hours from Asheville—and has the propensity to get insanely crowded on nice weekends, even at sunrise, but worth the effort. This Appalachian Trail hike takes you across the mostly bald summits of three mountains, with 360° views of North Carolina and Tennesee (you go back and forth over the state lines) accompanying you the entire time.
I’ve done a winter hike to Roan Highlands in the past, and I’ve done several sunrise hikes there in the summer, but never committed to a winter sunrise hike until this year (next up: summer sunset on Grassy Bald). Moving forward, this will be a tradition because despite the cold and the wind (and it was very cold and very windy), this was one of those consider-kissing-the-ground-and-thanking-god-for-being alive hikes. I really don’t think I could capture via words how tranquil and gorgeous it was being up there in the snow, and honestly, I’m not going to attempt. This post was always going to be about the pictures because sometimes there’s not much more to do say than, hey, this was an outrageously beautiful hike.