Appalachian Trail Backpacking Workshop & Trip
The Roan Highlands in Tennessee and North Carolina
Appalachian Trail Backpacking Workshop & Trip - Group A
June 9 - 13, 2021
The Roan Highlands in Tennessee and North Carolina
Limit 8 participants.
WORKSHOP FULL. Join the waiting list.
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This same trip is also offered one week later on June 16 - 20, 2021.
Increase your level of backpacking expertise and whet your appetite for a long- distance hike on this 4 day, 3 night Appalachian Trail backpacking adventure. This hike includes spectacular, wide open panoramic views of the Roan Highlands, a stay at the highest shelter on the Appalachian Trail and educational workshops. Roan Mountain is famous for its spectacular natural gardens of Catawba rhododendrons.
This is a great hike for intermediate backpackers wishing to increase their distance as well as number of days in the backcountry. This trip is designed for those who wish to go backpacking on the trail with experienced guides and those who wish to learn more about Appalachian Trail hiking. The night before our trip will be spent at Mountain Harbour Hostel and B&B in Roan Mountain, Tennessee,an Appalachian Trail hiker's favorite.
Our Backpacking Workshop and Overnight Trip or equivalent. Participants must be in good physical condition and able to handle strenuous activity for a sustained period of time. Please check with your doctor if unsure.
We will take the necessary COVID-19 precautions on this trip based upon the prevailing COVID-19 recommendations.
The Roan Highlands
are one of the most beautiful places on the southern Appalachian Trail
. Roan Mountain is a true gem of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Whether hiking the grassy balds or strolling through gardens of tree sized catawba rhododendron, this place has a special feeling. The air is thin here and the climate feels like Canada. The wind swept forest of spruce and fir lives like an island floating above the mixed hardwood forest below. While the highest parts of the mountain have a dark mossy forest, much of the highlands are lacking trees. The Appalachian balds of the Roan are meadows in the sky. Roan Mountain is the highest point in the area, peaking out around 6,300 feet. The Tennessee - North Carolina state line runs across Roan Mountain.
Probably the most beautiful place I have ever been is a stretch of the Appalachian Trail along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee near Roan Mountain and some of the highest peaks in the eastern United States. This section of the trail from Roan to Jane Bald and Grassy Ridge winds along the ridges at an altitude from 5000 feet to over 6000 feet through mostly open meadow. From the parking lot at Carver's Gap, the trail ascends approximately 1000 feet via log steps to the summit of Round Bald, elevation 5826 feet. Although it doesn't look very steep from the parking area, half way up the incline it becomes very clear that one is gaining significant altitude. There is no need to rush the climb, though, because the slope is adorned with beautiful rhododendrons and azaleas, and the views of Roan High Bluff and the surrounding mountains are spectacular. Scattered throughout the grassy meadow are beautiful specimens of the purple rhododendrons (R. catawbiense), a few flame azaleas (R. calendulaceum), occasional blooms of the rare Gray's Lily (Lilium grayi), many other wild flowers. (Don Hyatt
) Read More
IMPORTANT - READ THIS! Weather on Roan Mountain is highly changeable. Severe weather can be encountered on any day of the year. Cold temperatures, thunderstorms, hail, lightning, high winds, fog and low visibility can occur in June. Hiking in the Roan Mountains is challenging. Our route includes long, prolonged climbs that are steep at times. The Appalachian Trail which ascends and descends the summits of the Roan Highlands often go straight up and down the mountain without switchbacks. This hike should be considered strenuous as the trails can be rugged, rocky and muddy. This combined with ever-changing weather conditions make this a challenging hike which should only be attempted by people in good physical condition. Your pack weight must not exceed 30 pounds.
We’ll hike ~21 miles over four days. This trip is designed to be both a learning experience and a backpacking adventure on the Appalachian Trail. Workshops will cover various Appalachian Trail topics. The goal of this trip is to help each participant become more confident in his/her own backpacking ability while enjoying the scenic beauty of the Roan Highlands. This pace of this hike is moderate with ample time allowed for rest breaks and dealing with changing weather conditions.
Plan to arrive no later than 3:00 pm in Roan Mountain, Tennessee. We’ll spend Wednesday night in the Mountain Harbour Hostel and B&B. Car pooling available. We will enjoy wood fired brick oven pizza at Smoky Mountain Bakery for supper. Mountain Harbour Hostel Web Site
~ Map Link To Mountain Harbour Hostel
The plan for overnight accommodation in the hostel is dependent on a decline of COVID-19 cases. Otherwise, we will tent camp at the hostel.
We’ll begin our day with a buffet-style breakfast at the Mountain Harbour Hostel; then catch a shuttle and start our hike at Hugh's Gap, hiking ~5 miles on the Appalachian Trail. This part of the hike is mostly uphill and sometimes steep. At the summit of Roan Mountain, we’ll camp near the Roan High Knob Shelter in tents.
We’ll backpack ~7 miles on the Appalachian Trail through the spectacular Roan Highlands, including Jane Bald, Round Bald and Grassy Ridge. Accommodations for the night will be camping near Overmountain Shelter, one of the most scenic shelters on the entire AT.
We’ll backpack ~6 miles on the Appalachian Trail through spectacular Roan Highland country including Little Hump Mountain and Hump Mountain, setting up camp at Doll Flats campsite.
We’ll backpack ~3 miles back to Mountain Harbour Hostel for the return home. Showers available for $5 at the hostel after the hike.
During this tip we will conduct informal Appalachian Trail educational workshops.
- Lighten Your Load. How to make your backpack lighter.
- Leave No Trace along the Appalachian Trail.
- Reading and understanding Appalachian Trail maps, guidebooks and data books.
- Appalachian Trail shelter usage, rules and etiquette.
- Campsite selection on the Appalachian Trail.
- Selecting water sources along the Appalachian Trail.
- Water treatment options: pump filters, squeeze filters, chemicals or what?
- Appalachian Trail lingo, slang and trail names.
Important Note: Your backpack weight must not exceed 30 pounds.
- Backpack and backpack rain cover
- Pair of trekking poles.
- Tent (1 person tent if solo or 2-3 person tent if shared with a friend)
- Sleeping Bag & Pad
- Headlamp or Flashlight
- Lightweight camp shoes
- Warm Clothes (warm hat, gloves, long underwear, down jacket or equivalent, 2-3 pairs of wool socks)
- Stove and fuel (if cooking hot meals)
- Water treatment (filter or chemical)
- Rain Gear
- Bandanna, whistle, drinking cup.
- Food: 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners plus snacks.
- Personal medications: Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Antacids, Pepto-Bismol, Prescriptions (as needed).
Andy "Captain Blue" Niekamp.
Andy Niekamp is the Chief Adventure Officer for Outdoor Adventure Connection, which specializes in backcountry adventures. Andy has backpacked over 16,000 miles including four end to end hikes of the Appalachian Trail and thru hikes of the Buckeye Trail, Ohio To Erie Trail, Florida Trail, Sheltowee Trace, Long Trail, Ozark Highlands Trail, Colorado Trail, Superior Hiking Trail, John Muir Trail and the Bartram Trail. Andy is founder and leader of the Dayton Hikers group, the largest outdoor recreation group in Dayton, Ohio, and a Leave No Trace Master Educator. Andy Niekamp grew up and lives in Dayton and has a passion for long distance hiking which he shares with others. Andy brings his wealth of backpacking experience and his passion for hiking to this program. He has two rules for his backpacking trips. Number 1: Be safe. Number 2: Have fun!
Here Is What They Say This About Appalachian Trail Workshop:
What a fabulous adventure! Where to start? This section of the Roan Highlands is magical in its beauty. The flowers, the trees, the boulders, the steep climbs, the grassy balds, set against the backdrop of mountainous ridge after ridge were breath taking.
– Karen P.
Andy is a great leader; he helped us with our weaknesses and praised our strengths. He provided a nice balance of group hiking and also let us hike at our own pace. I would recommend this trip to anyone who has interest in hiking any type trail for an extended period of time. Experienced hikers would definitely benefit as well. If you have every wanted to "get out there" this is the trip to take.
– Charley S.
I liked the option of hiking at our own pace on sunday morning, not being in a hurry to get to the hostel. Everything was perfect. Thank you so much!
– Margie H.
And last but not least a huge thanks to Andy for planning, leading and inspiring us all to live life one step at a time. You truly are a great, thoughtful and generous leader.
– Chris C.
This trip was quite a triumph for me personally. The scenery was amazing. The culture of the AT is something I love and am fascinated by. But people are what make our lives the most meaningful. I could not imagine sharing the experience with 6 finer people on earth.
– Chris C.
What I liked best was all of the knowledge and experience Andy shared. I learned so much and had an absolutely memorable adventure.
– Leigh L.
There is not ONE THING I WOULD CHANGE!!!!! The entire trip exceeded every expectation I had. And Andy, you could not have been a more wonderful, helpful, and genuinely kind person!!!! And I mean that 500%. It was especially awesome getting to know you better!! I now consider you more than my "backpacking guide"... I think of you now, truly, as my friend.
– Gina B.
Operated on the Pisgah National Forest under a special use permit. Non-Discrimination Statement.
What Is Included?
Your registration fee includes professional guides, all workshops, course material, Wednesday pizza dinner, Wednesday night stay at Mountain Harbour Hostel, Thursday morning breakfast, shuttle and parking fees. Each participant will receive copies of the Appalachian Trail map, guidebook, data book and handbook for the section we are hiking.
What Is Not Included?
Gear. Meals and snacks excepted where noted above. Transportation to and from the A.T. Optional guide gratuity.
Inquire about available rental gear.
Your workshop fee is fully refundable, less any PayPal fees, if you cancel 21 days in advance or if this event is cancelled or rescheduled.
All participants must complete an adventure application and sign a liability waiver. Adventure Application PDF with fill-able form fields or Adventure Application PDF to download/print.
Application must be returned for your registration to be confirmed. Note: If you've attended one of our trips in the last 12 months we have an application on file for you.
Minimum age is 18. No pets permitted. All of our trips are non-smoking. A recommended gear list, meeting location and trip details will be sent via email to registered participants.
Fantastic trip and a great time. Looking forward to participating in more events! – Shawn L.