Roan Highlands better than the Smokies?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Well, according to National Geographic's Adventure Magazine, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

In the lastest issue of Adventure, National Geographic ranked the top 50 Best American Adventures. Coming in at number 23 was “Hike the Roan Highlands,” which refers to a 48-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail between the Nolichucky River and U.S. Highway 19E.

As you might expect, locals and hikers from the Roan Highlands region are pretty excited about the ranking.

The magazine "dissed" the Smokies with this brief description:

“Surprise. The finest mountain scenery to be found on the southern half of the Appalachian Trail isn’t in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s north along the Tennessee-North Carolina border in the Roan Highlands.”

I'm sure some of you might find those to be "fighting" words! Sure, the Roan Highlands has a lot of open areas providing for a lot of expansive vistas. But quite frankly, as good as they are, those views just aren't quite as good as they are along the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies. Think about the views of Fontana Lake from Shuckstack, or the any of the views from places like Spence Field, Rocky Top, Charlies Bunion or Mt. Cammerer.

I don't know, what do you guys think? Which section of the Appalachian Trail do you think has the better scenery?

By the way, here's the top ten adventures from the list:

1. Biking the Continental Divide Trail: Multistate
2. Kayaking Lake Yellowstone: Wyoming
3. Rowing Down the Grand Canyon: Arizona
4. Climbing Mount Rainier: Washington
5. Canoeing the Adirondacks: New York
6. Exploring ANWR: Alaska
7. Biking RAGBRAI: Iowa
8. Surfing the Lost Coast: California
9. Hiking the Sierra High Route: California
10. Wreck Diving Lake Superior: Minnesota

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Anonymous said...

So you picked a fall picture from Roan Mtn when everything was brown and dead and asked us to compare it to a nice green picture of the Smokies. Not biased, are ya? ;) Of course I'm just playing. I enjoy spending time in Smokies and on Roan Mountain. It's great to have so many hiking choices in this area!

Unknown said...

I live in Avery Co. NC and hike both the Roan Highlands and the Smokies. The only edge I would give the Roan over the Smokies is the wild flower show across the balds in June and Grassy Ridge is one the best vistas in the Appalachian. Wildlife viewing is better in the Smokies, as well as the forest, but the National Park is too regulated and you can only camp in shelters.