Best Family Hiking Trip In East Tennessee
Hiking With Kids
T and I do a lot of hiking. I have actually been taking him since he was a baby. In those early days, he had to be lugged up the mountains in a baby carrier. He would coo and reach out and come so alive in the midst of it all. Nature has always soothed and intrigued him. Just like it has me. As he has grown he has insisted on climbing those mountains. While some kids may want trips to the toy store or days at the movie theater, T has always wanted time deep in nature. That said, we have likely hiked more trails and climbed more mountains than most. When any of my friends ask me where the best family hiking trip is in East Tennessee, one where they can go hiking with kids, I always recommend the Roan Mountain hike. Though, this hike is technically just over the North Carolina border.
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Why Roan Mountain Delivers The Perfect Family Hiking Trip
I recommend the hike from Carver’s Gap up to the Balds for several reasons.
- The trails are well marked and well maintained.
- The trip up to the first Bald is not overly strenuous.
- With the exception of the short trip through the forest, even when kids wander off the trail you can still see them easily.
- The views are breathtaking.
- There are plants and flowers on Roan Mountain that you can’t see anywhere else around here.
Kids Don’t Hike As Adults Do
Most adults are all about the destination and they begin the hike and go until they reach their endpoint. Kids stop to savor the details. Us adults can learn a lot from those kids. I love this hike because it offers so much to stop and explore. T has an app on his phone where he can take a picture of a plant and it identifies it for him and teaches him all about it. We met our very first Eastern Newt up on Jane Bald. There are berries, groves of trees, and Rhododendron plants worth exploring.
Not All Mountain Views Are Safe For Kids To Enjoy
One thing to keep in mind is that some views are only visible from locations with long drop-offs. Other times you will encounter areas along the way with loose soil or shifting shale. When T was little I avoided areas like this at all costs. On Roan Mountain, you can hike up to the first Bald without these concerns. If you do continue from there you will encounter areas with what may be dangerous overlooks depending on the hiker’s caution. But at Roan, as soon as you emerge from the forest and all the way up to the first bald you are surrounded by wave after wave of mountains. It’s gorgeous and can be appreciated from a safer standpoint. You can’t beat that when hiking with kids.
Remember No Hike is 100% Safe
Keep in mind that no hike is completely safe.
- It’s important to talk to your kids about staying close to you. If you have a child that is quick to wander away from you a whistle around his/her neck is a good idea.
- Bring plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- Be prepared to have to carry your child when they are still little.
- Always carry a first aid kit.
- Apply bug spray and tick repellent.
- Dress in layers. The weather at the top of a mountain is never the same as the weather at the bottom. Better to have too many clothes than too few.
- Even fully prepared there is always still a possibility of some danger. We stay up to date on current first aid and have taken the time to learn how to recognize dangerous snakes and how to respond to wildlife. Educate yourself.
We hike Roan Mountain often and I have posted about it before. To see more images and learn a lot more about this hike, check out the posts below.
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Other Posts You May Enjoy:
This post from the American Hiking Association has some good tips for hiking with kids.
Here are some great Saftey Tips for When Hiking With Kids from yourhikeguide.com.