Sylva Pinnacle (1-20-15)
Sylva Pinnacle is a place I found completely by accident. I "discovered" it while looking for information about future hikes in the Plott Balsam Range, of which it is a part. To my surprise it is a very locally popular hike which reportedly boasted spectacular views of the Town of Sylva and the high peaks surrounding it. It quickly moved up to my short-list of must-do hikes.
The Pinnacle is a narrow 5,000-foot high protrusion off the main ridgeline of the Plott Balsam's which form a dramatic wall to the north of Sylva. You can see the Pinnacle from numerous places in town but, as it sites some 400' lower than the main ridge, if you don't know where you're looking it doesn't really stand out. With a 6,000' ridge to its back, Sylva Pinnacle shouldn't garner all that much attention. What makes it unique is its open and rocky summit which higher, neighboring peaks don't have. From its open summit you get a spectacular view of the Sylva valley some 3,000-feet below and of many of the 6,000-foot-plus peaks of the Plott Balsams nearby.
Thankfully the land surrounding the Sylva Pinnacle has been protected for quite some time. Originally part of the Town of Sylva's watershed, the land surrounding the summit was later turned into a municipal park. The hike took me through a beautiful, mature woodland the likes of which I haven't seen on many of my walks locally. That said, Sylva Pinnacle is a peak that makes you EARN IT. The climb from the trailhead to the summit involves around 2,100 vertical feet and the trail is unrelenting in its ascent. Personally, I think nothing of planning 10-12 mile day hikes but this 7-mile round tripper had me really struggling at times. I've always said though that the harder the climb, the more you appreciate the view at the top, and that's certainly the case here. Come on along as I grind my way up this very unique peak...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.422604, -83.191270
Route Type: Out-and-back Difficulty: HARD
Hike Length: 7.0 miles Hike Duration: 2:30
Trailhead Temp: 35'F Trail Traffic: 1-5 people
Min. Elevation: 2,900' Max. Elevation: 5,008'
Total Vertical Gain: 2,108' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 602' (ascent)
Trails Used (blaze color): West Fork Trail (unblazed)