Black Balsam

Looking for a short hike with spectacular views?

Black Balsam is awesome for a quick, beautiful hike off the parkway. The views driving up are breathtaking. Take the time to stop at some of the overlooks that look out onto the Pisgah National forest. The Richland Balsam Overlook is the highest elevation on the parkway at 6,053 ft.

Black balsam knob sunset. Photo by: Sam Cook

Black balsam knob sunset. Photo by: Sam Cook

Black balsam is perfect to take your parents on or younger siblings. It is a gradual uphill stroll, and not too strenuous. I recommend going here in the fall when the leaves are changing colors because the views are spectacular and there are wild blueberries. Also highly recommend bringing lots of layers! For example, today was bright and sunny. Usually I come prepared with layers but thought I would be fine in shorts. We were all pretty cold and the wind was blowing every which way. I should have brought a bigger jacket and a hat, because my ears were freezing.

Summit of 6,214. The walk is a short 1/2 mile. You travel across mountain balds, which is a cool experience. The terrain is open with panoramic views and the trail is well-defined. Make sure you bring your camera!

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1 mile roundtrip

Pros: Panoramic views

Cons: Windy

Trailhead: Art Loeb Trail

Directions from Cullowhee:

-Take highway 107 to the Blue Ridge Parkway, turn left at Parkway

-At fork in the road, turn left towards Asheville.

-Keep straight until road marker 420. A mile after marker 420 there will be a sign on your rights for Black Balsam.

-Turn left at the sign.

-If you see the Graveyard Fields parking lot, you’ve gone too far

-Park on the right side of the road. Limited parking.

-Trail is on right side of road. Brown sign that says Art Loeb Trail. Follow up.


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