Sunday, September 9, 2012

Black Balsam Knob - A Spectacular Hike on the Blue Ridge

The Black Balsam area of the Blue Ridge Parkway includes one of the most spectacular mountain balds in the Southern Appalachians, Black Balsam Knob. This treeless mountaintop draws people from afar due to their sweeping views.

The quickest way to the summit of 6214' Black Balsam Knob is via the Art Loeb trail. This is a walk of about 1/2 mile which gains about 400' in elevation. The first quarter mile passes through a thick Balsam Grove (hence, Black Balsam Knob) after which the trail abruptly breaks out onto the wide grassy ridge. It passes through open, grassy and rocky mountain meadows and this short walk is highly recommended!

What sets this peak apart from others in this region is expansive grassy summit. Almost entirely devoid of trees above 6000', you can hike almost 3 miles without dropping back into the trees. This is likely due to the more popular peaks that can be found to the east and west. 

Black Balsam Knob is one of the most uniquely beautiful mountains in the Southern Appalachians. It lies on the southern edge of the Shining Rock Wilderness, in the Pisgah National Forest, and is only a mile or so off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Directions:  The Black Balsam Knob Access Road is located just west of Milepost 420 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The nearest access points to the Parkway are US-276 which crosses the Parkway at Milepost 412 on its way from Waynesville to Brevard. The other is by way of NC-215 which crosses at Milepost 423 on its way from Canton to Rosman.

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