Tennent Mountain Loop (7-6-12)
Turning 35...not a milestone I'm particularly fond of passing but I knew, being back in the mountians, I had to do something memorable to commemorate the occasion. A mountaintop hike was certainly in order and, a bit cheesily, I decided on my 35th to climb the 35th highest peak in North Carolina...Tennent Mountain at 6,040 feet. The trailhead for this loop hike is at the wildly popular Black Balsam Parking Area. The 5-mile loop I'd be following heads out to Ivestor Gap along its namesake trail and then returns via the summits of Tennent and Black Balsam.
If I had to make a list of 'Best Hikes in North Carolina', the 5-mile loop out to Tennent Mountain would rank solidly in the Top 5. Rarely along this entire hike are your eyes not drawn to sweeping views in all directions. In fact the the final half of the hike, over Tennent and neighboring Black Balsam Knob, is almost exclusively wide open as you walk through one of the largest expanses of southern bald in the Appalachians. Pictures struggle to express just how amazing this area is. The following is my feeble attempt to do so, enjoy!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.325752, -82.881991
Hike Length: 5.0 miles Hike Duration: 2:15
Trailhead Temp: 78'F
Min. Elevation: 5,650' Max. Elevation: 6,214'
Total Vertical Gain: 800' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 160'