Free Guided Hikes in the Highlands of Roan – June Jamboree 2012

On Saturday, June 23, SAHC will host a day of free, guided hikes in the Highlands of Roan. This year’s annual June Jamboree is something special  — part of a year-long celebration for protecting 50,0000 acres from the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Highlands of Roan!

For the 2012 June Jamboree, SAHC is offering six guided hikes with a variety of special themes and difficulty levels, all designed to give participants a feel for the conservancy’s work as well as the ways in which people can enjoy the protected landscape. Participants can choose between a birding hike to Hampton Creek Cove, relaxing hike and yoga class in the Roaring Creek Valley, kids’ play day in the creek with fun stream ecology, and ridgeline hikes on the Roan balds with opportunities to view native flowering plants like Catawba rhodododendron and flame azalea. (See details below)

“We are so thankful that we have been able to accomplish the work we have done. We want to get people outdoors to appreciate what land protection really means to them,” notes SAHC’s Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “This year, we are especially pleased that we will be celebrating the protection of over 50,000 acres in this stunning landscape.”

To register for the June Jamboree, click here call (828) 253-0095, ext. 205. This event is free and open to the public.

Detailed description of the event:

Saturday, June 23rd

Adventures in the stunning Highlands of Roan. Roan Mountain State Park will be our headquarters this year.


8:00 a.m. – Participants have the opportunity to meet for coffee at the Pavilion of Roan Mountain State Park before hikes begin.

7:45 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Hikes in the Highlands of Roan (see individual descriptions below)

4:00 to 6:00 p.m. – Social & presentation at the State Park Conference Center following the conclusion of hikes, with light snacks and beverages.

Hike Descriptions

Flame AzaleaHike #1: Carvers Gap to Grassy Ridge
Leader: David Smith, former SAHC board member and Seasonal Ecologist

Start Time: 9:00 a.m. Saturday, June 23
Difficulty: 7.5 (see hike key note below)
Departure Location: Carvers Gap Parking Lot

This classic hike is an adventure through the highest elevation Roan balds, which are considered among the most spectacular scenery along the entire Appalachian Trail. Grassy Ridge, elevation 6,189 feet, is the highest point near the AT with a natural unobstructed 360 degree view and offers so much more with rhododendron, flame azalea, patches of spruce fir forest, and rare plants such as Gray’s lily and Roan Mountain bluets. Those wishing an easier hike can enjoy the flowers and expansive views from Round Bald or Jane Bald instead of going all the way to Grassy Ridge.

June Jamboree hikersHike #2: Carvers Gap to Hampton Creek Cove
Leader: Tom Gatti, SAHC’s first Seasonal Ecologist

Start Time: 7:45 a.m. Saturday, June 23
Difficulty: 9 (see hike key note below)
Departure Location: Visitors Center/Museum with waterwheel — Town of Roan Mountain

Like hike #1, hikers will trek to Grassy Ridge but have the opportunity to continue further onto beautiful Hampton Creek Cove. After making it to Grassy Ridge, hikers will descend several thousand feet to make it to Hampton Creek Cove. Tom Gatti, SAHC’s first Seasonal Ecologist will lead the way on this strenuous yet worthwhile adventure.

Half of the group will need to drop cars off at the Town of Roan Mountain Visitor center so that when the hike finishes everyone will have a ride back to Carvers Gap parking lot where the hike begins.

Cattle in Roan HighlandsHike #3: Big Hump Hike (“Stand Up That Mountain”)

At this point, this hike is FULL. We have begun a waiting list.

Leader: Jay Leutze, SAHC Board Member and author of “Stand Up That Mountain”
Start Time: 9:00 a.m. Saturday, June 23
Difficulty: 7 (see hike key note below)
Departure Location: Minneapolis Baptist Church in downtown Minneapolis, NC
Hike Limit : 10

Join author, Jay Leutze,  and experience the landscape that inspired his new book.  This hike is a steep pull, but the footing will be good.  Hikers will travel up along Little Horse Creek, then climb a ridge to a pasture with spectacular views — and possibly a herd of Watusi cattle.  Hikers will then climb to the summit of Hump Mountain (Big Hump), a grassy bald with 360 degree views. This is the least-visited of the grassy balds in the Roan and this hike affords a unique opportunity to travel a little-known route.  Hike time 4-5 hours round-trip.

Birding PhotoHike #4: Birding at Hampton Creek Cove
Leader: Chris Coxen, SAHC’s Seasonal Ecologist

Start Time: 9:00 a.m. Saturday, June 23
Difficulty: 5 (see hike key note below)
Departure Location: Hampton Creek Cove Parking Lot

Grab your binoculars for this four-mile roundtrip hike in Hampton Creek Cove. Birders will have the opportunity to experience some of the most exquisite birds in the area. Expect to hear the early morning songs of the Willow flycatcher, the Alder flycatcher, and the Golden-winged warbler.

The old field/forest succession at the lower mountain elevation provides excellent nesting habitat for golden- winged warblers, a declining neo-tropical migrant species. Because the area is so important to this warbler, the National Audubon Society designated it an “Important Bird Area” in 2005. So come out and enjoy this beautiful bird sanctuary.

Yoga on the MountainHike #5: Yoga on the Mountain
Leader: Alexandra Ulrey, yoga instructor, and Michelle Pugliese, SAHC’s Land Protection Director

Start Time: 10:00 a.m. Saturday, June 23
Difficulty: 4 (see hike key note below)
Departure Location: Beck Property Entrance

Lay your yoga mat in the open that is tucked within the stunning landscape of the Highlands of Roan. Prepare to move into your exalted warrior or tree pose while feeling the sun warm your skin and the high elevation breezes simultaneously cool you. Land Protection Director Michelle Pugliese will lead you on an easy to moderate hike through our protected National Trails Tract in the Roaring Creek Valley, along pristine streams and critical bird habitat, to the Pisgah National Forest for a gentle yoga practice. The meadow lies below the Appalachian Trail Yellow Mountain and overlooks one of SAHC’s most cherished conservation focus areas. After the yoga practice we will walk the short gravel road that is the route of the Overmountain Victory Trail back to our cars. We also have the option of visiting nearby Elk Hollow Creek waterfall after the Yoga session. Namaste.

Elk Hollow CreekHike #6: Kids’ Day in the Creek
Leader: Rich Preyer, SAHC’s PR and Outreach Associate

Start Time: 10:00 a.m. Saturday, June 23
Difficulty: 3 (see hike key note below)
Departure Location: Beck Property Entrance

Bring your kids to come play in the creek on SAHC’s beautiful Beck Tract. This shorter hike is designed to get kids to explore some of the beautiful water protected by SAHC. Kids will learn about basic stream ecology, look for crayfish and salamanders, and potentially see some native brook trout. Kids are welcome to bring fishnets, buckets, or other toys to play with in the creek. This hike is for kids 7 and older. Parents are welcome to participate as well. Don’t forget to bring water shoes, a towel, and bathing suit.

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