We will meet at Ingles, by the sign at 9am. Do a meet and greet, and arrange carpooling. We will leave Ingles by 9:15am
Total Length: Will be about 5 miles or a little less
Trail Tread Condition: Moderately Rough
Climb: Climbs Moderately
Lowest Elevation: 5850 ft
Highest Elevation: 6050 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 570 ft
Trails/Roads Used: Connector trail, Sam Knob Summit, and Flat Laurel Creek Trail Hike
Configuration: Out-and-back and Loop
Starting point: Black Balsam Parking Area
If you want to meet me at the trail-head...We should be there around 10am...
How to Get There: From Asheville, follow the Blue Ridge Parkway south for 26.5 miles past the NC 191 Parkway access. Turn right on FR 816 (Black Balsam Road) just past milepost 420; a sign reads "Black Balsam". Follow this road to the end at the parking area.
Hike Description You can't help but to stop and check out the view on the way up Sam Knob! This hike starts at one of the highest trailheads in Western North Carolina. The Black Balsam parking area is one of the more popular access points for the Shining Rock Wilderness as well. At 5800', you will be hiking through a high-elevation environment more typical to southern Canada than the Southeast. This is an excellent hike for a hot day; temperatures rarely climb out of the mid 70's at this elevation. Sam Knob is a spectacular two - peaked mountain rising above the crystal-clear waters of Flat Laurel Creek and the surrounding meadows. The view from the top is incredible! Begin behind the sign board on the trail signed "To Sam Knob Summit". This level trail follows an old roadbed, and immediately passes a pretty glade on the left that is brimming with wildflowers, especially during the spring. You'll soon enter a large, scenic mowed meadow with Sam Knob looming directly in front of you. The climb from this meadow to the top is just shy of 400', which is achieved over a long distance by several switchbacks on the trail. This makes for a gradual, easy ascent. Cross the meadow, and pick up the trail signed "Sam Knob Summit" on the far end. This trail begins the gradual ascent of the south side of Sam Knob in a lush, young forest of mostly Northern hardwoods. There are a few rooty and rocky areas along the trail, so pay attention to your footing. The path is well-built and sheds water well, so eroded sections you will not have to contend with. The trail switches back, and it will rise above the trees, offering up some great views - but it's just a glimpse compared to what you will get from the top! Lush plants grow near rock outcrops beside the trail, including blueberries, strawberries, sedges and grass, mountain laurel, and countless wildflowers including bluets. At one point you will ascend a set of wooden steps at a particularly steep and rough spot. Then, along with a great view on the left, the trail will pass beneath some large rock faces, which are just below the summit. The terrain levels out as the trail wraps around to the west side of the summit. This is a a grassy, shrubby saddle between the two high knobs, and a large outcropping of snow white quartz juts from a grassy meadow beside the trail. Just beyond this outcrop is where the trail splits. Turn left and walk a few more feet to reach the highest point on Sam Knob, 6045'. The view from here is of Fork Mountain to your right, Fork Ridge (yes!) to your left, and the West Fork Pigeon River in between. Turn around and head to the top of the other summit, just a couple hundred feet away. This grassy spot is a good place to hang out and enjoy the views of the Shining Rock Ledge to your left, Black Balsam Mountain with the big meadow you walked through in front (click for view), Little Sam Knob to the right and Silvermine Bald on the horizon. In the valley below, to your right, is NC 215 as it winds its way up the valley to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Jutting up over the ridgeline you can make out Devils Courthouse beside the Blue Ridge Parkway. And behind you are views of the other summit of Sam Knob.
We will connect to Flat Laurel Creek to get back to the parking area making it a loop, kind of.
We will be carpooling. If you are riding with someone else, please make sure to contribute for gas money. Thank you.
Dogs are welcome on this hike!!
There is 30% chance of rain...so bring rain gear or be prepared to get wet!