Round-Trip: 2.2 miles
The highest points of North Carolina’s backcountry may seem out-of-reach for young explorers, but the short hike to the 6,050-foot peak of Sam Knob is one an entire family can conquer. The double summit near the Blue Ridge Parkway is an ideal outing to take in colorful autumn vistas at the roof of the Pisgah Crest.
From Black Balsam parking area at 5,850 feet, set out on the less-traveled Sam Knob Summit Trail. Follow a relatively flat old roadbed and cross a tranquil meadow. Beyond the grassy field, turn right at the trail intersection and ascend a series of modest switchbacks to the apex of Sam Knob. En route, Mother Nature’s dividend is a diverse landscape of lush vegetation, rolling meadows, steep rocky slabs, and two grassy knobs separated by a shallow gap. With few trees to obscure the view, the peak highlights captivating vistas across rows of wild ridges and well-known landmarks, such as Shining Rock Ledge and Devil’s Courthouse. Explore the summits’ rocky ledges and grassy patches to find an ideal picnic spot to spread a blanket and savor the colorful waves of fall foliage. Retrace your steps to return to your vehicle.
Navigate: From Asheville, follow the parkway south for 26.5 miles. Just past milepost 420, turn right on Forest Road 816 (Black Balsam Road), and follow to the terminus at the Black Balsam parking area.