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 rhododendrons normally bloom in mid to late June, putting on an amazing display of color.
Roan Mountain’s swimming pool is open for the 2016 season from May 28 to August 14. Admission is $4 and cabin and camping guests pay half price for admission. Hours of Operation are 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM Wednesday through Saturday; 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM on Sunday. The pool is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
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. Lifeguards are on duty and there is a wading pool for small children. WiFi is available.
Note: The pool will be open on Monday, May 30 ond Monday, July 4. During these two holiday weeks, the pool will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
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 over 3 miles of mountain bike trails. Difficulty levels range from easy to strenuous.
Blue 2 Trail (1.35 Miles) — Natural — Easy - Multi-Use
Mountain-bike trail standards would rate this single-track loop as easy, but it does require some experience. It climbs and descends steeply in short sections, and makes some narrow switchback turns. With careful observation, hikers and bikers will see evidence of old home and farm sites that are located throughout this hollow. 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 and call out before passing.
Moonshiner's Run Trail (1.85 Miles) — Natural — Easy to Moderate - Multi-Use
This linear trail mostly follows the Doe River from the southwestern Turkey Trot trailhead to Hwy 143 near the visitor center. The trail is wide and level in sections, but narrows to a more technical single-track in the last mile. The trail consists of mostly rolling hills and a few steep climbs. Trail users will find many places to stop and take a break next to the Doe River while enjoying riverside views and spring wildflowers. Bike trails should not be ridden when muddy and are open to hikers at all times. Mountain bikers should be courteous to fellow trail users and should wear helmets while riding.
Chestnut Ridge Trail (1.95 Miles) — Natural — Difficult
This trail is very strenuous, the most challenging trail in the park. Hikers can access the Chestnut Ridge Trail from the Forest Road Trail. The Chestnut Ridge climbs very steeply through deciduous forest and rhododendron thickets. The trail quickly gains elevation on its way 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 Roan Highlands from an overlook platform. Black bears frequent this remote section of the park. Hikers are encouraged to make noise and hike in pairs.
Cloudland Trail (0.5 Miles) — Natural — Moderate
This hike is a self-guided tour. Informational brochures corresponding to the numbered signs along the trail are available at the visitor center. The loop trail begins behind the visitor center and meanders along the Doe River before heading up and over a couple of small ridges. The trail highlights how habitat types differ with changing elevation and moisture conditions. The effects of invasive species on indigenous plants and trees, like the Eastern Hemlock, are also noticeable on the trail. Hikers can see diverse wildlife as they move through the Appalachian forest, past unique rock formations, before returning to the visitor center.
Forest Road Trail (2.75 Miles) — Natural — Easy to Difficult
The longest trail in the park connects the visitor 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. Hikers on the Forest Road Trail can expect rhododendron tunnels, bridge crossings over the Doe River, and beautiful views of Roan Mountain during the winter months.
Fred Behrend Trail (2.35 Miles) — Natural — Moderate to Difficult
This loop trail travels through a typical Southern Appalachian. Two spur trails allow hikers to enter or exit the loop from access points in the campground. This trail climbs and descends steeply in places, making its loop around the entire campground. The trail leads hikers alongside the Doe River before ascending a moderate hike into lush thickets of rhododendron. Hikers on the Fred Behrend Trail can expect to traverse a rich Appalachian ecosystem consisting of mountain hollows and stream crossings. The trail ends at the junction to the Riverside Trail where hikers can continue back to the campground.
Peg Leg Mine Trail (0.35 Miles) — Natural — Easy
This trail leads back to the ruins of an iron ore mine that was operational in the late 1800s, during a time where iron ore mining was a prominent industry in the area. Most of the mine shaft has caved in over the years, so entry is prohibited for safety reasons. As you near the mine site, hikers will notice the scarred landscape containing mine test holes and rail cart pathways that can be viewed from a trailside platform deck. Upon arriving to the mine site, hikers will find steps that lead down to the entrance where miners and carts loaded with iron-rich rocks once came and went.
Raven Rock Overlook Trail (1 Mile) — Natural — Difficult
Access for the trail is available at two junctions along the Forest Road Trail. It is steep from either direction and ascends quickly to the crest of Heaton Ridge. Although the trail is rated as difficult, it is considered one of the favorite trails in the park. This steep trail leads to stunning views at the halfway point. The Raven Rock Overlook is located approximately 0.5 miles from either end of the trail. It offers stunning views of the Roan Valley and surrounding mountain ranges, and is a great place to watch a Roan Mountain sunset.
Riverside Trail (0.5 Miles) — Natural — Easy
The 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 leads hikers alongside the peaceful Doe River. The trail passes the Group Camp area to connect with the Fred Behrend Trail. Hikers along the Riverside Trail can stop for a break along the water or find a spot to cast a line in the Doe River. The river is home to several types of trout and sustains a number of unique species. If you’re lucky, you might even see an Eastern Hellbender salamander.
Turkey Trot Trail (0.25 Miles) — Natural — Moderate to Strenuous
This trail begins at the cabin overflow parking lot and ends at the top of the ridge. It serves as an access point from the cabin area to the Forest Road Trail and Moonshiners Run Trail.
Turkey Trot Trail (0.4 Miles) — Natural — Easy
This self-guided nature hike mostly follows the Doe River. Informational brochures are available at the Campground Check-In Station.
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.