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Balsam Mountain Trail to Appalachian Trail Junction

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Balsam Mountain Trail to Appalachian Trail Junction is a 19.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Cherokee, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 19.5 mi Elevation gain 2,965 ft Route type Out & Back

Kid friendly

Backpacking

Camping

Hiking

Horseback riding

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Running

Forest

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

Snow

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (0)
Contact
Getting There

This hike begins with aggressive accent to Beech Gap. This flat field will provide a nice shady spot for a well-earned break. Continue on BMT to Laurel Gap Shelter, which offers a picnic table and water source for a nice lunch spot. Return to the BMT and turn right for an easy grade to Luftee Knob. From here it is an easy ridge walk to the AT. On a clear day you will have views of Mount. Cammerer (little white spot on a cleared peak). Turn left on the AT and .02 miles turn left to shelter. Day 2 will provide an easy return using the same route. Depending on your level this maybe completed as a day hike.

Ocanaluftee Visitor Center 865-436-1200

Hwy 441 South, just past Oconaluftee Visitor Center turn left on Blue Ridge Parkway. 2.6 miles turn left on Heintooga Ridge Rd. 9 miles enter the one-way Balsam Mtn Road and 8.4 miles to Pin Oak Gap. Parking is on right. Notes: Balsam Mountain Road Open May to October Tri-Corner Knob Shelter requires free reservation permit Backcountry office 865-536-1297 Fill out backcountry permit at Ocanaluftee Visitor Center

Weather
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Reviews (6)
Photos (41)
Recordings (6)
Completed (22)
Alicia Rambo
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HikingBlowdownBugsMuddyOver grownRockyWashed out

I decided to make a shorter day hike out of this one as I scope out future backpacking trails. Parked at Balsam Mountain Trailhead and hiked to Laurel Gap Shelter for lunch as the midway point. This was 8.6 miles total with 1900 ft gains. The ascent to Beech Gap intersection is about half riddled with chest-high wood nettle and other overgrowth. I used my hiking poles to do some weed-whacking along the way but it didn't help much. Wear long pants for sure. I was happy to be wearing water-resistant tactical polyester pants with gortex hiking shoes. Without the right gear my feet and legs would've been soaked from the wet grasses along the trail. After the Beech Gap area it does clear up a bit but keep in mind this trail is overall VERY narrow and parts of it are pretty eroded, muddy and rocky with roots as well. If you are looking for a well-maintained trail, this is not for you. I enjoyed myself for the most part. Didn't see anyone else in my 4-hour trek on a Monday morning. Good fitness hike for sure. Hiking poles are a must in this area!

View Alicia's Recording
Jim Froula
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Hiking

Approach up Beech Gap is steep. Balsam Mt Trail is long and pleasant to the AT.

David Roberts
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Hiking
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Stan Rose
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Hiking
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Susie Q.
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Hiking
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Susie Q.
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Hiking
View Susie's Recording