Rogers Ridge Horse Trail
A long ridge hike with incredible views along the way that is then dwarfed by the commanding views at 4,440' and another at 4,770' upon the balds near the end offering 360° views of the surrounding area. The views include Grandfather Mountain to the south and Whitetop and Mt Rogers to the North-East. The ending is a bonus view of the VA-TN-NC Tri-State Corner Knob unceremoniously marked with a simple surveying disk.
How to get there
From Kingsport, TN:
- Take I-81 north to Exit 19 for US-58 towards Damascus.
- Continue through Damascus.
- Take right (south) when VA-91 and US-58 split.
- Proceed back into Tennessee to Laurel Bloomery.
From Mountain City, TN:
- Proceed north on TN 91 for 7.7 miles to Laurel Bloomery.
Then for both routes:
- Turn at the A-Z Market onto Gentry Creek Road (sign to Pleasant Home Church) and proceed 0.8 miles.
- Make right turn onto Star Gap Road.
- Then quickly left again ton continue on Gentry Creek Road, which become gravel after 1.1 miles.
- Shortly after becoming gravel, the trail head and parking area are on the left
The road continues to the right to the dead end cul-de-sac with a trail marker for Gentry Creek Falls trail.
The trail is mostly well blazed with yellow rectangles, never leaving confusion as to the proper direction at trail junctions. This is true until shortly after entering the bald clearing when the trail dead-ends into another trail. Although a sign signified the way we came was Rogers Ridge Horse Trail, it gave no indication of the path to continue. Additionally the yellow blazes stopped here. This may be the "official" end of the Rogers Ridge Horse Trail. Horse trail markers mentioned in old books were also never seen at any point along the trail.
The trail begins at the sign with a creek crossing. Horse hitching posts and campsites are also near the trail head. After the creek fording, it is an uphill climb most of the way. It quickly reaches a ridge and follows near it most of the way. Once it opens up to grassy fields, the views are splendid. Trail/road swings right to go almost east for about a half mile to the state line. A left turn past the summit leads down to the Tri-State Corner Knob of TN-VA-NC.
|Miles Out||Rogers Ridge Horse Trail||Miles Back||Elevation (ft)|
|0.0||Trail head at parking spot||6.87||2,766|
|0.31||Unknown trail connection to the left, possibly to the B&B observed just before the trail head||6.56||2,865|
|0.85||Unknown trail connection to the left||6.02||3,211|
|3.55||Unknown trail connection to the right||3.32||3,966|
|3.77||Unknown trail connection to the right||3.10||3,957|
|3.90||Multi-(unknown) trail junction, continue right||2.97||3,962|
|3.99||Unknown trail connection to the right||2.88||4,066|
|4.52||Trail junction in small clearing||2.35||4,039|
|4.70||Camping spots on left||2.17||4,121|
|5.07||Unknown trail connection on the left, possibly to reach the balds sooner||1.80||4,373|
|5.33||Enter the balds||1.54||4,438|
|5.38||Trail junction, possible official end of Rogers Ridge Trail, continue right to Tri-State Corner Knob, head left for 0.2 Mi hike to an open bald view||1.49||2,766|
|5.79||Trail splits for several approaches up the bald, shortcut to the right, stay left for a peak view||1.08||4,724|
|5.96||Horse hitching posts, not the worlds most ineffective fence as one author suggested||0.91||4,761|
|6.10||Open road gate||0.77||4,861|
|6.31||Trail high point in a bald clearing||0.56||4,900|
|6.60||Trail/road junction, head left to Tri-State Corner Knob, right is private property up to the ridge house||0.27||4,800|
|6.87||The Tri-State Corner Knob||0.00||4,633|
The trail began with a well flowing creek no provision for a dry crossing. These hikers in October opted for a barefoot crossing to avoid risking a long hike starting with wet feet.
The trail is nice and wide suiting well for group hikes. There is the occasional ORV rut to walk around. The trail includes several sections of loose large rock around first sized and smaller. Although not noticed on the ascent, the return descent was a challenge for the ankles.
On an October Saturday during near peak fall color when hikers to vast overlooks would be most expected, the hike was near complete solitude from people and noise. The only encounter was a truck driving by near the Tri-State Knob terminus.
Several of the hike descriptions found online and in books appear to be vastly out of date. Many notes of passing old structures, abandoned buses, and other trail features were simply not seen in 2015. It is suspected that either major cleanup had happened, or the trail has been rerouted in the intervening years.
The house on the peak near the Tri-State Knob built in the early 1990's has been severely vandalized. Maybe one day the ridge line will be restored to its natural beauty. Online investigations revealed that the property was originally part of a 175 acre tract, but in 2010 all but around 15 acres were conveyed to the State of North Carolina. The house (and therefore ridge line) remains on a privately owned 10 acre tract straddling the TN-NC state line.
Out of a strange curiosity of the ownership of the ridge line and the fantastic Ashe County Document system, the following deed transfers were discovered:
- 27 January 1917 175 acres were transferred from Webster Hawkins and wife to C. N. Hawkins (Ashe County Deed Book U-1 Page 400)
- 30 October 1987 173 acres were transferred from Robert BeHage and wife to Robert Shive and wife (Ashe County Deed Book 161 Page 1770)
- 22 May 1997 173 acres were transferred from Robert Shive to Gerald Rogers and wife (Ashe County Deed Book 221 Page 38)
- 8 January 1999 173 acres except a withheld 5 acre parcel were transferred from Gerald Rogers and wife to J.C. Johnson, Jr. (Ashe County Deed Book 236 Page 1391)
- 9 March 2009 to 9 July 2010 all but around 10 acres were transferred from J.C. Johnson, Jr. and wife to the Blue Ridge Rural Land Trust or State of North Carolina
- Ashe County Deed Book 394 Page 338
- Ashe County Deed Book 404 Page 1390
- Ashe County Deed Book 410 Page 240
- Ashe County Deed Book 410 Page 243
- Ashe County Deed Book 410 Page 249
- 14 December 2011 8 acres (plus I believe two in Johnson County TN, in a far less friendly county records system) were transferred from the by co-executors John Chris Johnson, III and Benjamin Lee Johnson of the estate of John Chris Johnson, Jr to David Lee and wife (Ashe County Deed Book 425 Page 939)