Indian Grave gap to Iron Mountain gap clocks in at around 10.2 miles and packs in loads of variety. You’ll see new growth forest recovering from an old forest fire, wipe open balds and vistas, and tall dark forests atop Unaka Mountain. The change is scenery is almost startling it happens so fast. As if walking from one decorated room to another the backdrop will change and evolve along with the trip. It’s a great trip, that offers plenty of miles and a medium challenge for a weekend trek.
It begins just off of rock creek road in Erwin Tennesse, and ends just into North Carolina. Beginning at 3,400 feet and peaking at just over 5,100 feet, you’ll certainly get your work out in. I recommend packing light.
The main attraction here is Beauty Spot. Climbing up will get your legs warmed up and enhances your appreciation of the view at the top. Beauty Spot offers full 360 degree vistas thanks to the balds atop the mountain. No pesky trees to get in the way here. Tall grasses glow gloriously in the evening (or morning) sun. You’ll peer out across the sprawling gentle mountains of Erwin and Unicoi at every angle.
Just beyond Beauty spot, you’ll find one of two reliable water sources marked by a blue blaze. I recommend filling up here, especially if you have less than 2 liters of water. Carrying on you’ll descend slowly back into the valley where you will be rewarded with shade and a nice change of scenery.
Further on, you’ll climb Unaka mountain, gaining about 600 feet of elevation. There are some great wide open camping spots here with tall trees to shelter you from the wind. Sadly, there are no views atop Unaka Mountain, but the beautiful duff floors of the forest make up for that.
Carry on a few miles further and you’ll find yourself at a nice large shelter at the floor of yet another valley. The second water sources lies here, marked with another blue blaze.
The trip ends up with a long side winding crawl up to highway 107/226 at the North Carolina/Tennessee boarder.