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Richland Balsam Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
miles
LENGTH 1.4 MILES
DIFFICULTY 2.7 Easy
DURATION 1 hour
ELEVATION GAIN
410
feet
TRAIL TYPE
Loop
Richland Balsam

Journey to the top of both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Balsam Mountain range as you hike this short interpretive trail to the summit of Richland Balsam. The smells of the spruce-fir forest and the cooler weather under the dense foliage make this short hike a pleasure to travel along.

The trailhead for this hike begins at the Haywood-Jackson overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway. A good sized parking is accompanied by a single picnic table, but no restrooms. Before (or after) heading out on this hike, travel less than half a mile south along the parkway to the Richland Balsam overlook. While this overlook doesn’t actually provide trail access to Richland Balsam, it does mark the highest point along the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as offer sweeping views to the southwest.

The trail begins as a paved path to the left of the parking area. Follow it to the information signs. A box will contain laminated trail guides that detail the 23 numbered posts along this hike. If there are no trail guides, an online version is linked below in the notes section. The trail immediately begins to gain elevation, ascending 400 feet over .6 miles to the summit. Take a break on one of the many benches along the way.

At just under .2 miles, the trail splits to form a loop. Stay to the right to follow the numbered markers. As you climb, the forest become dense and cool, a great escape on a hot day. A posted sign marks the summit, although there are no views. From here, it’s all downhill, looping back around following above the Blue Ridge Parkway back to the parking lot and overlook. The path around this section of the loop is much rockier, including several sets of stone steps, but still not difficult.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Terrain Map Click to control map
Details
length1.4 miles
difficulty2.7 Easy
duration1 hour
features Dog Friendly  Summit  Views 
trail typeLoop
blazeNone
elevation gain410 ft.
park/forestBlue Ridge Parkway
ranger districtBlue Ridge Parkway
199 Hemphill Knob Road
Asheville, NC 28803
828-348-3400
parking feeNone
trailhead coordinates 35.359958, -82.986877 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°21.6, W 82°59.21 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°21'36'', N 35°21'36'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Directions Trailhead Coordinates
35.359958, -82.986877 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°21.6, W 82°59.21 most GPS units use this one
N 35°21'36'', N 35°21'36'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
The trailhead is at the Haywood-Jackson Overlook, half a mile north along the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Richland Balsam Overlook.
Notes
For an copy of the trail guide information, visit: http://www.brptrails.com/brp4310.htm or the printable, text-only version: http://www.brptrails.com/brp4310t.htm
Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
3 (1)
hikethesouth-3 weeks ago
Clear Your Nostrils
The magnificent smells of fir and spruce slap you upside the face on this short hike. This is a good one for kids. Although this is the tallest point along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the best view is from the parking lot.
Easy | Hiked Spring 2013
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