Unaka Range

Coordinates: 36°6′10″N 82°21′47″W / 36.10278°N 82.36306°W / 36.10278; -82.36306
The Unaka Mountains

The Unaka Range is a mountain range on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. It is a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains and is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains physiographic province. The Unakas stretch approximately from the Nolichucky River in the south to the Watauga River in the north.

The Unakas include the prominent Roan Highlands, where several summits rise above 6,000 feet. The Iron Mountains border the Unakas to the north, and the Bald Mountains border the Unakas opposite the Nolichucky to the south.[1] The name unaka is rooted in the Cherokee term unega, meaning "white".[2] Common lore is that 1 in 4 trees in the Unaka Range were American Chestnut trees prior to the great Chestnut Blight. Because the chestnut had long white blossoms, the Unaka Mountains turned white in color during the spring blossoming of the chestnut trees. They were called the White mountains by the local Cherokee.

The Cherokee National Forest and the Pisgah National Forest protect large sections of the Unaka Mountains. The Appalachian Trail traverses the Unaka crest.

In some geological and in historical sources, the term "Unaka Range" is used to identify the entire crest of the Appalachian Mountains along the Tennessee-North Carolina border, including the Unakas, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Bald Mountains, the Unicoi Mountains, and the mountains in the Big Frog Wilderness and Little Frog Mountain Wilderness.

Unakite was first discovered in the Unaka Range, and was named after it.


Established in 1986 by the U.S. Congress, the Unaka Mountain Wilderness is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. The 4,472 acre wilderness area is managed by the United States Forest Service.[3]

Notable peaks[edit]

The highest point in the Unaka Range is Roan High Knob, which rises to an elevation of 6,285 feet (1,916 m).

Peak Name Elevation (ft) Land NC0573Flag of North Carolina.svg TN0621Flag of Tennessee.svg Prominence Isolation
Roan High Knob 6,285 Cherokee/Pisgah Mitchell Carter 3,485 18.81
Roan High Bluff 6,178 Pisgah Mitchell 187 1.54
Cloudland Mountain 6,267 Cherokee/Pisgah Mitchell Carter
Grassy Ridge Bald 6,189 Pisgah Avery, Mitchell 688 2.35
Round Bald 5,807 Cherokee/Pisgah Mitchell Carter
Jane Bald 5,807 Cherokee/Pisgah Mitchell Carter
Hump Mountain 5,587 Pisgah Avery
Little Yellow Mountain 5,504 Pisgah Avery, Mitchell
Hawk Mountain 5,443 Pisgah Mitchell
Big Yellow Mountain 5,440 Pisgah Avery


  1. ^ "Topographical Map of Chestoa, TN". TopoQuest. Retrieved 2011-06-07.. Retrieved: 25 July 2008.
  2. ^ Mooney, James (1972). Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee. Nashville, Tennessee: C and R Elder Publishers. p. 542. OCLC 729245899.
  3. ^ Unaka Mountain Wilderness - Wilderness Connect

External links[edit]

36°6′10″N 82°21′47″W / 36.10278°N 82.36306°W / 36.10278; -82.36306