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Roan, Table Rock, Asheville

I'm planning a trip to North Carolina toward the end of the month. I have a rough outline of what I want to do, but I'm hoping anyone who knows the area well can help me fill it out a bit.

I'm from Tennessee, but I live in Los Angeles. My girlfriend and I are taking another couple up to the mountains for a couple of nights. I'm not sure how much camping experience they have, but I want to make sure this one's a good one. I'm thinking of leaving from Chattanooga and heading to Roan Mountain for the afternoon and hiking from Carver's Gap to Grassy Ridge and back. From there, I want to head to Table Rock for the night. I've heard it's free to camp in the U.S. Forest outside of Linville Gorge without a permit. We would camp there for the night, hike to the top of Table Rock to check out the stars, explore a bit more in the morning, and take off down the Blue Ridge Parkway toward Asheville. I know there's Mt. Mitchell on the way. Any other things worth seeing? We'll stay in Asheville for the night. I don't know too much about the city. Where are some good places to eat, and what are some must-see things in or around the city? We'll probably spend the rest of the next day there and drive back that evening.



Hey Adam,

I go to those areas pretty often, so I think I can help out. I've been a part of a thread that should answer most of your questions. I think all of your hiking ideas sound great! I LOVE both Roan and The Gorge.

If you go North on the Parkway, Mt. Mitchell and Craggy Gardens are both awesome. The hikes to go on there are from Mt. Mitchell to Mt. Craig and the Craggy Pinnacle hike.

If you go to Table Rock, there are some areas that you can camp at for free near the parking area at Table Rock on the right side of the parking lot. Just past the picnic area, there is large, flat, open spot with views that I saw several people camping in or you can keep going past that spot on the MTS trail (about 1/4 mile) and camp in the Chimneys (this review has some pictures and Patman's Trip Report also has some pictures and explanations). Just before you get to the Chimneys, there is an unusual rock formation that has a perfect flat spot, just underneath that little formation:


Here are some helpful links: (good directions) This has tons of info on the entire Asheville area.


Asheville is one of my favorite cities. My recommendations for restaurants are:

Tupelo Honey Café (breakfast, lunch, or dinner)

Biscuit Head in West Asheville (a MUST for breakfast)

Jack of the Wood

Asheville Brewing Co (pizza and awesome beer)


If you want advice on great places to grab a drink with awesome views, I recommend the Sky Bar and the Grove Park Inn. Both have amazing sunset views.

If you need advice on breweries, gear shops, or music venues in Asheville, let me know. I'll be glad to help if you have any other questions.



That’s a big day in the car: From Chattanooga to Carvers Gap is going to be about four hours, the hike out to Grassy Ridge will be about 30 minutes each way (if you choose to hike to the end of Grassy Ridge and you may as well), if you only stay on the ridge for an hour, you’ve added two hours, then the drive to the Table Rock area will be more than an hour.

If you keep that route you will probably need to use the camp sites just south of the Table Rock parking lot on the MST trail or chance finding something else in the dark. There is no convenient water near the table rock parking lot (that I know of) so bring plenty to camp with.

You may consider staying on Grassy Ridge at the saddle camp (or one of the many scattered spots on the way), though that saddle spot does get some wind and the dew makes it seem like it rained every night even when it doesn’t. The land is owned by the ATC so there is no permit required. There is a spring up there accessed via side trail that goes east down the knob for about 1/8 of a mile or you can water up on the AT before climbing Grassy.


One quick correction from what I told you, you would be going SOUTH on the parkway from the Linville area. I was temporarily thinking you were coming from Asheville and in that case, it would be North on the Parkway.


Ashleigh, thank you so much for all of the information. That's a huge help. I definitely want to look into camping at the chimneys. I've climbed there before, but we just camped on the side of the road--nothing too spectacular.

Patman, it is a long haul, but I've done Roan as a day trip from Tullahoma which is further west that Chattanooga. I would be interested in camping at grassy ridge; I didn't know that you could. You said it's called the saddle camp?

 Well i call it the saddle camp but it's not officially named. As you head up/out Grassy Ridge from the AT you'll come to a plaque marking the first summit. if you take the trail to the left (North) of that plaque area you will pass various obvious campsites on both sides of the trail. Depending on the day of week you'll most likely see others already tenting. If you continue on maybe a half mile you'll reach the obvious saddle which is low and open and has Rhodo bordering the eastern and western view. From that area there is side trail descending North that leads to a spring. You can camp in the open saddle or follow a side trail through the Rhodo around the right and find two or three more little camps in the Rhodo.  

As you already know, Grassy ridge is quite an exposed prominence and you could potentially get walloped there by bad weather (but it’s worth the risk, imo) . If a storm hits and you need to bail to a lower camp, i would continue North on the AT for a mile or so and hit one of the camps in the trees on your left.

Since you’ve already been and this won’t spoil it for you, check out this trip report from last summer when I went with my wife.



I would also be curious to know if the PVC pipe we installed at the Grassy Ridge spring is still there. ;)

Hey pat, I was up on grassy ridge last year in August---not sure when ya out the pipe in but I don't recall one bein there...

The spring I went to was at the end of grassy ridge where there's a smallish field surrounded by rhodo and a big rock hidden to the right...

The spring was to the left of the field down the hill a bit...

Easy to find and believe it was a good small flow of water coming from it...

I was going got stay in that field but it was coming down buckets that day so i just hightailed it back to carvers gap...

Kevin that is exactly the spring I'm talking about....we were there in June so I guess it didn't last....oh well thanks for the update 


I forgot to mention one of my very favorite Asheville restaurants, White Duck Taco. They have an awesome selection of unique tacos and super cheap. Perfect for lunch or dinner. It is located in the River Arts District across from the Wedge Brewery (which is also worth stopping by).

October 1, 2020
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