Devil's Courthouse - Sam Knob - Black Balsam Knob, NC

August 29, 2006

This week's hike was in the Shining Rock area of the Pisgah National Forest off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC. We went to the Devil's Courthouse (5,720 ft), Sam Knob Mountain (6,045 ft), and to Black Balsam Knob (6,214 ft). All three of these mountain trails offer stunning views.

HIKERS - Jeff Anderson, Melissa Anderson, John Bellamy, June Bellamy, Dick Metzgar, Wayne Miller, Bruce O'Connor, Jeanne O'Connor, Dan Ross, Doug Russell, Bob Presley, Donna Presley, Tony Presley, Carole Wintle .

TRAIL INFO. - The Devil's Courthouse is a half-mile mostly paved steep trail up to the breathtaking overlook. Next, we walked the Sam Knob Trail up to the summit of Sam Knob Mountain which features a fantastic 360 degree view of the magnificent mountains of the Pisgah National Forest. Then, we hiked on the Art Loeb Trail up to Black Balsam Knob for even more stunning views.

Total hiking distance - 6.5 miles

Directions: From Clayton, GA, take Hwy. 441 to Franklin, NC and turn right on 441 / (23) and continue through Dillsboro and highway 23 will fork off to the right and you stay on 23 to the Balsam community until you see a sign for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn onto the Parkway entrance and take the parkway toward Asheville. There are mile posts along the way. Near mile post 420, you will see the parking lot for Devil's Courthouse. Next, continue to Forest Service Road 816 near Parkway mile post 419. Turn left onto the FS 816 and drive a mile and a half or so to the parking lot for Sam Knob. You will see a trail marker sign for the Sam Knob Trail. The Art Loeb Trail can also be accessed from the other side of the road for the hike up to Black Balsam Knob.

Another great day for a hike! Partly cloudy, temperatures ranging from the low 60's to the upper 70's..

FLOWERS IN BLOOM: White Yarrow, Heal-All Spotted Jewelweed, Pale Jewelweed, White Snakeroot, White Wood Aster, Pink Turtlehead, Peruvian Daisy, Asters, Angelica, Joe Pye Weed, Goldenrods, Bindweed, Oxeye Daisy, Fireweed, Liatris, Sourwood, Summersweet, Closed Gentian, Virgin's Bower, Skullcap, Bluet, Tall Bluet, Indian Pipe, Queen Ann's Lace, Bull Thistle, Coreopsis, Daisy Fleabane and Black-eyed-Susan.

BIRDS IDENTIFIED: Junco, Towhee, Chickadee, American Crow, Chimney Swift, Cedar Waxwing and Raven.

GEOLOGY - Geologically, the rocks of the area are interlayered and complexly folded mica schist and gneiss with commonly abundant quartz and granite veins.


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Our first walk of the day!
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Here we are at the Devil's Courthouse.
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Great mountain views in every direction.
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Balsam Trees and mountains are beautiful together.
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Now, we are on the trail to Sam Knob!
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Approaching the Summit of Sam Knob Mountain, we get some nice views.
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From the summit, the views are stunning!
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Lunchtime! Food simply tastes better with good atmosphere.
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After lunch, we move over to Black Balsam Knob!
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From Black Balsam (high spot of the hike at 6,214 ft), we look over
to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Looking Glass Rock.
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Looking from Black Balsom Knob over toward Shining Rock Mountain
and Cold Mountain (yes, the Cold Mountain from the book).
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The OFHC gang for today's hike: (front) Bruce O'Connor (l-r standing)Doug Russell, Jeff Anderson, Jeanne O'Connor, Dick Metzgar, Carole Wintle, Wayne Miller, Melissa Anderson, June Bellamy, John Bellamy, Donna Presley, Dan Ross, Bob Presley, and Tony Presley.


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