After a 5-year hiatus, it was fitting to mark my return to a North Carolina summit at Black Balsam Knob. The hike up to the bare summit of Black Balsam Knob has always been one of my personal favorites and is a classic in the western North Carolina mountains. Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway midway between Brevard and Waynesville, the peak sits amidst the most expansive open mountaintop terrain aside from the Roan Highlands. For a full 4-miles one can hike along the ridge with not a single tree to impede upon the views. It's simply an awe-inspiring place.
The hike to Black Balsam is a nice introductory hike to this area. Short but sweet, its only about a mile from the trailhead to the summit and one is only required to climb about 400 vertical feet of its total 6,214. The first bit of the hike winds through a thick stand of red spruce which, from a distance, gives the lower slopes of the mountain a dark complexion and thus its name but soon you break out into the open for the rest of the walk to the top. Come for a walk with me and you'll see why I am so thoroughly in love with Black Balsam...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.320590, -82.876183
Hike Length: 1.0 miles Hike Duration: 1:00
Trailhead Temp: 25'F
Min. Elevation: 5,900' Max. Elevation: 6,214'
Total Vertical Gain: 314' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 314'