This popular 14-mile hike, more frequently done as a two-day backpack trip, is one of the best hikes in the state (to be geopolitically correct, it dribbles over into Tennessee). Starting from Carver’s Gap, you’re atop Round Bald within a third of a mile, Jane Bald within a half mile and Grassy Ridge Bald within a mile. That alone may be good for some day hikers, in part because the stellar views on a clear day or blatant time stealers. From there, it’s a rollercoaster of more stellar scenery on this stretch of the Appalachian Trail, topping out about 10 miles in on Hump Mountain, star of Jay Leutze’s great read, “Stand Up That Mountain.” If you do one mountain hike this summer, make it this one.

More info: “100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina”, Hike No. 81; “Backpacking North Carolina,” Trip No. 23.

Maps: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Tennessee-North Carolina, map 2, and the accompanying guide.

Map of trailhead and shuttle here.
View 20 Classic North Carolina Hikes: Carver’s Gap to US 19E in a larger map
carvers gap
Location: North Carolina/Tennessee border on NC226
Nearest town: Bakersville
Latitude: N36 06.430
Longitude: W82 06.722
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 14.1 miles
Loop/one-way: One way
Time to complete: One long day (shorter out-and-back options)