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Plott Balsam via Waterrock Knob Trail

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Blue Ridge Parkway

Plott Balsam via Waterrock Knob Trail is a 8.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Sylva, North Carolina that offers the chance to see wildlife. The trail is rated as difficult and offers a number of activity options.

Length8.6 miElevation gain2483 ftRoute typeOut & Back
BackpackingHikingNature tripsRunningForestViewsWildlife
Waypoints (5)
1
Waterrock Knob
35.46407, -83.13766
2
Browning knob
35.46307, -83.13195
3
Cessna crash
35.46356, -83.13226
4
Mount lyn Lowry
35.4641, -83.10934
5
Plot balsam
35.48021, -83.08819
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (35)
Photos (969)
Recordings (34)
Completed (91)
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Heather Mina
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 27, 2020
HikingMuddyOver grownRocky

Challenging, but worth the beauty of the cross. My favorite part was the view of the cross & the knob (with weather equipment & bridge) just prior to the cross. I don't think I will return to Plott Balsam (not well maintained ).

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Sue Schwein
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 3, 2020
Hiking

The one thing about doing a hard trail is the incentive of a nice payoff at the end. We got to the end and we were “ok -where is the view? Where is the payoff”. No view or payoff at the end. The trail was very overgrown in places. It needs upkeep, so definitely being a machete with you if you plan on going all the way. The trail is very diverse and there are a lot of pretty wildflowers.

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Kate Carter
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 2, 2020
Muddy

As soon as you get bored on this trail, there is something else to see. Alpine meadows, pine forests, and a logging trail serve to break up the monotony, and there is the Cessna crash and the Lyn Lowry monument for some out-of-the-box landmarks. Trail is very well-marked until the Cessna crash and decently marked through Lyn Lowry. After that, however, you are more or less on your own. Last .4 miles up to Plott Balsam is basically a (completely doable) bushwhack. Be careful about following the pink/blue/orange ties on trees during the return journey, as they do not all follow the trail.

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Johnny Reb
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 28, 2019
HikingBlowdownMuddyRockyScrambleWashed out

Good trail, very muddy in places and rocky with lots of tree roots that can be slick. We checked out the Cessna fresh site and run across a couple of guys who needed help getting out, one was cramped up bad. Administered some salt/magnesium pills helped him out greatly and followed them out as this was a night hike for us.

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Karen Richardson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 30, 2019
HikingBlowdownMuddyOver grownRocky

Completed this challenging hike today with my two children, ages 19 and 21. It is not for the faint of heart! Weather was mild for November 30 (50s), but very foggy the entire hike. Although it normally affords great views, we had not a single one. Still, a beautiful day to be out in the mountains. The first climb to Waterrock Knob (.5 miles) is taxing but relatively short. Then on to Browning Knob where we took a small detour to see the Cessna wreckage from 1983. Sobering. Moving on, it is quite steep downhill to get to Lyn Lowry (coming back was tough) and even more leaving that peak (after seeing the huge white cross) on the way to Plott Balsam. If you make it this far, the delight is walking along an old road (logging?) that is the easiest part of the entire journey. Bit of a bushwhack up to Plott Balsam from this road that took maybe 15 minutes. Thought we made it to the top a few times before we actually got there! As I mentioned, the ascents back up to Lyn Lowry and Browning were not fun, but with slow feet and lots of stops, we finally got there. I would not recommend doing this hike in summer due to lots of overgrowth that is mostly gone in winter. Tons of roots, downed trees, and rocks on parts of the hike, so especially if it’s damp, tread carefully.

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Jeff Miles
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 24, 2019
HikingGreat!IcyRockySnow
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Leila Beik
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 1, 2019
HikingBugsMuddyOver grownRocky
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Melinda Champion
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 1, 2019
HikingBlowdownScramble
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Austin Propst
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 4, 2019
Hiking
First to Review

Great, tough hike. Awesome views to bag in a short amount of time. Trail decently marked after Waterrock Knob by Yellow Blazes (a little faded but still there). Plane crash off of Browning Knob is eerie but a must see.

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Jay Eidelberg
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 28, 2019
HikingBlowdownMuddyOver grownRockyWashed out
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