The Miller Farmstead provides a glimpse back to the hardiness and self-sufficient lifestyles of the Appalachian settlers. The Miller house was built in 1908 and is now preserved as a reminder of the way folks used to live in these mountains. A barn, corn crib, hog pen, root cellar, smoke house, chicken house, spring house and, of course, an outhouse surround the old frame house. During the summer months, local musicians, storytellers and demonstrators of traditional folkways visit the house on Saturday afternoons to share their talents. October's autumn colors make a trip up to the house a treat. Every November the house gets decked out in holiday finery for the Old Time Yule at the Farmstead. Hot cider and snacks are served and live music fills the house. In 2015, the farmstead was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The farmstead is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Wednesday through Sunday and weekends in October.
Carver's Gap, a low point in the ridgeline of Roan Mountain, is eight miles past the park on highway 143. As you drive up the road you leave Roan Mountain State Park and enter Cherokee National Forest, which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The parking lot at the gap provides access to the Appalachian Trail. To the north, the AT crosses a series of grassy balds, virtually treeless areas that offer unobstructed views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. This 10 mile stretch of balds is touted by many AT thru hikers as one of the most beautiful sections of the entire trail. To the south, the AT climbs to the high point of the Roan Mountain ridge - 6,285 foot Roan High Knob.
To reach the famous Catawba rhododendron gardens and the old Cloudland Hotel site on Roan Mountain bear right at Carver's Gap onto the Forest Service access road. All vehicles must stop at the USFS fee station and pay a small fee to enter the gardens area. The access road is closed during the winter months. The Catawba rhododendron normally bloom in mid to late June, putting on an amazing display of color.
Roan Mountain’s swimming pool is open from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day. Admission is $4 and cabin and camping guests pay half price for admission. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Lifeguards are on duty and there is a wading pool for small children. WiFi is available. During August, the pool is open only on weekends. A snack bar, Mini-Bob’s, is open during pool hours and serves hamburgers, hotdogs, ice cream and more.
The Doe River is one of the most productive trout streams in the state and is in close proximity to other wild trout streams as well as the Watauga River. Most anglers flyfish for abundant Rainbow and Brown Trout in the streams. Other tackle is productive for bass, Walleye and catfish in the Watauga River.
There are approximately 12 miles of hiking trails in Roan Mountain State Park and 2.25 miles of mountain bike trails. Difficulty levels range from easy to strenuous. Hikers can stroll along the Doe River or take a challenging trail up to a ridge with a great view. The Blue 2 Trail is used by both hikers and mountain bikers.
Blue 2 Trail 1.8 Miles — Natural — Easy - Multi-Use
The mountain bike trails should not be ridden when they are muddy, as riding in wet conditions damages the trails. Mountain bikers should wear helmets while riding. The mountain bike trails are open to hikers at all times. Please be courteous to fellow trail users—call out before passing.
This single-track loop trail is rated easier by mountain bike trail standards, but will definitely require mountain biking experience. It climbs and descends steeply in short sections, and makes some narrow switchback turns. With careful observation, hikers and bikers may see evidence of old farms and home sites in this area.
Cabin Access Trail 0.1 Miles — Natural — Easy
This short trail begins behind Cabin 7 and joins the Forest Road Trail and the Park Headquarters Access Trail. It also serves as a connection between Cabins 1-20 and Cabins 21-30, and leads to the Cabin Area Fire Ring behind Cabin 24. There is a set of steps ascending a steep hill to the fire ring.
Chestnut Ridge Trail 2.3 Miles — Natural — Difficult
From its junction with the Forest Road Trail, the Chestnut Ridge climbs very steeply through deciduous forest and rhododendron thickets to the Miller Farmstead on Strawberry Mountain. Views from the trail are especially nice in winter when the leaves have fallen from the trees. At the top of the trail, hikers are rewarded with a stunning view of the Highlands of the Roan from an overlook platform. This trail is very strenuous, the most challenging trail in the park.
Cloudland Trail 0.5 Miles — Natural — Moderate
This is a self-guided tour, and informational brochures corresponding to the numbered signs along the trail are available at the Visitors’ Center. The loop meanders along the Doe River before heading up and over a couple of small ridges, and provides an opportunity to observe how habitat types differ with changing elevation and moisture conditions.
Forest Road Trail 2.7 Miles — Natural — Difficult
The longest trail in the park provides a connection between the Visitors’ Center and the Campground, and acts as a link to several other trails. The southern section of the trail is rated easy from the Campground to the Cabin Area. From the Cabin Area to the north, the trail ranges from moderately difficult to difficult. The section from the Turkey Trot junction to Hwy 143 is very steep, but worth the effort, especially in spring when the forest floor is carpeted in wildflowers.
Fred Behrend Trail 2.3 Miles — Natural — Difficult
This moderately difficult loop trail travels through a typical Southern Appalachian forest. A couple of spur trails allow hikers to enter or exit the loop from access points in the Campground. This trail climbs and descends steeply in places.
Park Headquarters Access Trail 0.1 Miles — gravel — Easy
This easy access follows an old roadbed from park headquarters and the conference center, past the upper cabin loop for cabins 21-30, and connects to the Forest Road Trail.
Peg Leg Mine Trail 0.3 Miles — Natural — Easy
This easy trail leads back to the ruins of an iron ore mine that was operational in the late 1800s. Most of the mine shaft has caved in over the years and it is not safe to enter.
Raven Rock Overlook Trail 1 Miles — Natural — Difficult
The Raven Rock Overlook is located approximately 0.5 miles from either end of the trail. It offers a nice view of the park from above and is a great place to watch the sunset. This difficult trail is steep from either direction as it climbs up to the crest of Heaton Ridge.
Ridge Top Trail 0.5 Miles — Natural — Difficult
Riverside Trail 0.7 Miles — Natural — Easy
The easy Riverside Trail provides access from the Cabin Area to the Amphitheater and Picnic Shelter 2 by way of a boardwalk over a restored wetland. At Shelter 2, the trail enters the woods and passes the Group Camp area to connect with the Fred Behrend Trail.
Tom Gray Trail 0.4 Miles — Natural — Easy
The Tom Gray Trail is an easy trail that follows the Doe River for most of its length. It is a self-guided nature hike, and informational brochures corresponding to the numbered signs along the trail are available at the Campground Check-In Station. Wooden benches beside the river provide nice rest stops.
Turkey Trot Trail 0.5 Miles — Natural — Moderate
This moderately strenuous trail passes along a ridgeline through a deciduous forest, and offers good opportunities for wildlife watching.
Other hiking choices abound in this area of the southern Appalachians. Many trails of varying distances and difficulty can be accessed from the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway. Elk River Falls, Laurel Fork Falls, and Linville Falls are also nearby. The Appalachian Trail, Rhododendron Gardens Trail, Roan High Bluff Trail and Hack Line Road Trail can be accessed from Carver's Gap, which is eight road miles from the park.