Challenge the family with a 1.5-mile roundtrip that climbs nearly 1,000 feet to a craggy summit and far-reaching views of Linville Gorge and Pisgah National Forest. Location: 35.4641227722168, -83.1375503540039, Location: 35.4631462097168, -83.1318588256836, Location: 35.4644317626953, -83.1136016845703, Location: 35.4641609191894, -83.1093063354492, Location: 35.4663467407227, -83.1079788208008. Ignore the ribbons left by other hikers to mark the trail and continue along the ridgeline; pass side trails to the north and south. The trail is not well maintained along this stretch; navigate through vegetation and tree limbs on overgrown path. Completed this challenging hike today with my two children, ages 19 and 21. On the way back, the trail enters the woods at this bend in the road (unmarked). Continue east past a false summit on the ridgeline. In the shadow of Mount Mitchell, this 5.6-mile ridgeline hike climbs through hemlock and chestnut oak to a watchtower overlook of Blue Ridge and Pisgah peaks. Awesome views to bag in a short amount of time. Big views. Although it normally affords great views, we had not a single one. No view or payoff at the end. It is not for the faint of heart! A forest paradise. Return to the trailhead following the same route. From here, it's a steep bushwhack to Plott Balsam. Great, tough hike. Location: 35.4735260009766, -83.0956039428711. Next, continue northeast. Location: 35.480037689209, -83.088493347168. From here, the trail is not well maintained; bushwhack through evergreen forest and head-high vegetation; climb over, under, or around fallen trees. Last .4 miles up to Plott Balsam is basically a (completely doable) bushwhack. From the northwest corner of the memorial fence on Lyn Lowry go about 50 feet downhill towards Plott Balsam. The trail is very diverse and there are a lot of pretty wildflowers. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out. 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. Be careful about following the pink/blue/orange ties on trees during the return journey, as they do not all follow the trail. Elevation: 6088 feet, 1856 meters. (Pay attention to the unmarked junctions along the fire road between Mount Lyn Lowery and Plott Balsam—they’re easy to miss.) Location: 35.4655456542969, -83.1220932006836. The wreckage of this particular plane crash has been sitting there for 35 years: The story goes that on November 24, 1983, a Cessna 414 was flying from West Chicago to the Jackson County Airport here in the NC mountains. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out. Navigate rocky crags, snaking switchbacks, and wooden ladders on this 6.5-mile trek that crests Calloway Peak, the highest summit in the Blue Ridge. A huge metal cross marks the summit in memory of Lyn Lowery who died of leukemia in 1964. After that, however, you are more or less on your own. The one thing about doing a hard trail is the incentive of a nice payoff at the end. Bit of a bushwhack up to Plott Balsam from this road that took maybe 15 minutes. Plott Balsam (6,088 ft.): Views are scarce on this wooded summit; retrace your steps back to the trailhead (use the waypoints as a guide for the tricky trail junctions). Turn right (northeast); continue on dirt road heading northeast. The summit of Plott Balsam is at the end of the manway, beyond several small false summits.. Trail decently marked after Waterrock Knob by Yellow Blazes (a little faded but still there).
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