Black Balsam Knob: A moderate hike with excellent views

Black Balsam Knob is a 1.5 mile out and back trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s one of our most recommended hikes because it’s moderately challenging, has a variety of areas to walk through and offers amazing views.

Long range view from the Black Balsam Knob Trail showing mountains covered in green trees

Black Balsam Knob Hike Quick Facts

Trailhead location: Black Balsam Knob Road

Trail length: 1.5 mile out and back to Black Balsam Knob. The trail continues with the option to hike longer out and back.

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation change: 350 feet

Distance from downtown Asheville: 37 miles

Drive time from downtown Asheville: 1 hour via the Blue Ridge Parkway

About The Trail

The trail to the top of Black Balsam Knob follows a section of the Art Loeb Trail. The trail offers a very short (1.5 mile out and back) hike to the top of Black Balsam Knob. One of the best parts about the hike is the unobstructed 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trail offers one of the best views near Asheville.

Directions to Black Balsam Knob trailhead

The trail is about an hour from Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll see signage to turn off the Parkway near Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 420. After that, you’ll drive for about half a mile and you’re there!

If driving from downtown Asheville, you can hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway by the NC Arboretum or south of the Biltmore on Hendersonville Rd. Both are right at 38 miles and a 1 hour drive.

Please note that this area of the Parkway is often closed during the winter due to inclement weather.

Parking at the Black Balsam Knob Trailhead

Roadside parking is available at the trailhead. You’ll most likely see cars lined up along the road. Park anywhere along this stretch where there are parallel spots. The trailhead is on the right.

There isn’t anything too fancy going on at the trailhead as far as signs go. You’ll see an Art Loeb Trail marker here, though, so you’ll know you are in the right spot. Just hop on the trail and start walking.

Hiking The Moore Cove Falls Trail

A walk through an enchanted forest

You’ll immediately dive into the shade of the dark balsam fir forest just beyond the parking area. We love this hike because the forest truly feels enchanted. There’s a lack of underbrush and soft needles litter the floor.

Traverse to the top

After a few minutes of hiking, you emerge from the trees into a beautiful mountain meadow and can see your target peak of Black Balsam Knob in the near distance. Depending on the time of year, you will see various flowers and vegetation on the bald.

The next part of the hike can be a bit steep and rocky at times. Our 4 year old can traverse it just fine but I wanted to point out that it’s not all flat. There are several spots along the way and the trail shifts from rock to dirt a few times as you make your way up.

The rocky open terrain is a change of pace from most hikes in the area and is one of the great benefits of the Appalachian Mountain balds. After another half an hour or so, you arrive at the summit and get to take in the spectacular 360-degree view.

At an elevation of 6,214 feet with 988 ft. prominence, you have a beautiful view of the Shining Rock Wilderness and Mt. Pisgah just beyond. After soaking in the view, you can hike further on the Art Loeb Trail or venture back down to the parking lot.

A few notes on the Black Balsam Knob Trail

One thing to note is that there is little protection from the sun on the trail, especially on a cloudless day. We always put on plenty of sunscreen before hopping on the trail to be safe.

If you need restrooms, there’s an outhouse just about a mile down the road from the trailhead.

I mentioned it above but wanted to say it again– this stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway closes for winter! It’s a great hike from April through early November, though. Make sure to check the status on the official Blueridge Parkway site before going.

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