Tennessee Trails

America's Best Huts: Roan High Knob Shelter

Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee

Thru-hikers are hard-pressed to find anything more than a three-sided, bunker-style lean-to along the entire 2,180-mile length of the Appalachian Trail. So when the climb up to Roan High Knob lands the weary at the foot of a four-walled 1933 log cabin, it might as well be a five-star hotel.

Compared to the rest of the AT hut system, amenities in this old fire warden’s hut are far from spartan: It’s got easy access to a year-round stream, a fire pit, a cook prep shelf on the front porch, a second-story loft (with an actual windowpane), plus enough room to sleep 15. But those aren’t the only things that give this hut an air of the high life: At 6,285 feet, it also sits at the highest elevation of any shelter along the AT.

Roan High Knob Shelter huts
Photo by Adam Collins

Access the hut on a .6-mile hike through rhododendron tunnels from the eponymous parking area. Next day, continue northbound on the AT to check off one of its best bite-size sections: Descend 1.5 miles through mist-drenched spruce-fir forest to Carver’s Gap before strolling as many as 7 miles over Roan’s famous balds for views down the valleys that drop off either side of the massif. Return the way you came.

Trailhead Roan High Knob Season Year-round Amenities Wooden platform (bring a pad) Reservation Free; first-come, first-serve Contact