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Black Balsam Knob Trail
We love an easy trail that has FANTASTIC views! That’s why we love the Black Balsam Knob Trail!

The Black Balsam Knob Hike

Exploring the outdoors, especially with family, is one of our favorite ways to create lasting memories. And if you’re looking for a trail that’s both incredibly scenic and family-friendly, look no further than the Black Balsam Knob Trail in Canton, North Carolina.

Located on the larger Art Loeb Trail, and nestled between both the Shining Rock Wilderness Area and the Middle Prong Wilderness Area, it’s a trail that guarantees stunning panoramic views of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains yet a hiking experience that will be manageable by virtually all families.

If you’re looking for a hike that’s a bit more challenging than the Black Balsam Knob Trail, but you’d still like a family-friendly hike in virtually the same area, we highly recommend the Sam Knob Trail.

In either case, if you have comments/questions, feel free to leave us a comment below! And in the meantime, happy hiking!

Trail Information – Fast Facts

Black Balsam Knob offers a hiking experience suitable for beginner hikers. Below is a snapshot of the trail’s details:

  • Trail Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 1.4 miles (2.25 km)
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Duration: 1-2 hours

If you’d like to extend this hike, consider continuing on to Tennet Mountain, or even further along the Art Loeb Trail.

Trail Description And Points Of Interest

As you begin your journey on the Black Balsam Knob Trail, the initial part is a gentle ascent through a forested area. The canopy overhead provides natural shade, making it perfect for families to hike even during the hotter parts of the day.

Soon after however, the trail opens up to a bald, offering a 360-degree view of the surroundings.

The views start right away, so get your camera ready.

As you make your way, you’ll notice how the trail is clearly marked, reducing the chances of getting lost – another reason why it’s a family-friendly choice.

The trail meanders for a while up some sections with exposed rock.

Peri and Kai (not pictured) both LOVE the rock scramble sections!

But again, there is nothing particularly challenging here.

If you’re in the market for a quick rest, laying on the sun-warmed rocks in this section is a great choice!

While we didn’t have our own trail-side picnic, there are many spots where it’d be perfect to have one.

And if you choose to hike Black Balsam Knob around the middle to end of July, you might get lucky enough to experience the veritable blanket of bright orange Turk’s Cap Lillies that spring forth in a joyous symphony of color all along the path!

Just before the summit, the trail gets a bit steep and rocky, but it’s still quite easy all things considered. This section is probably no longer than 200 feet.

One of the major points of interest is the summit of Black Balsam Knob itself. Standing at over 6,000 feet, the panoramic view from here is simply breathtaking.

Recommended Gear

When hiking the Black Balsam Knob, we recommend you bring along the items in our day hike packing guide. Some of the key items from that list are:

  • Sturdy Hiking Boots: The trail can be rocky at points, so footwear that offers good ankle support is crucial.
  • Weather-appropriate Clothing: It can get chilly at the top, even during summer, so layers are recommended.
  • Backpack with Snacks and Water: Keep hydrated and energized during your hike.
  • Sun Protection: Even on cloudy days, UV rays can be strong. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
  • Trail Map and Compass: While the trail is well-marked, it’s always good to be prepared.

Family Hiking Safety Tips

Ensuring your family’s safety during the hike should be a top priority:

  1. Stay on the Marked Trail: Straying off can lead to accidents or getting lost. It can also damage the sensitive environment!
  2. Stay Hydrated and Take Breaks: Especially crucial for young kids who might get tired quickly.
  3. Check Weather Forecasts: The weather can change rapidly in mountain areas, so be prepared.
  4. Educate Kids: Teach them about trail markers and the importance of sticking together as a group. Also, try your best to always practice Leave No Trace.
  5. Wildlife Awareness: While encounters are rare, it’s essential to know how to react if you come across wildlife.

Trail Head And Route

The trailhead for the Black Balsam Knob Trail starts right on Black Balsam Knob Road. (The GPS coordinates for the trailhead are +35.320605, -82.876163).

From here, follow the clearly marked paths leading to the bald.

As you proceed, the trail intersects with other trails, but stick to the marked path for Black Balsam Knob. The route is pretty straightforward, and with the trail being well-maintained and clearly marked, families can navigate it easily.

Route Map

If you’ve read any of our other posts, such as the one on the intense but rewarding Blackrock Mountain Trail, you already know that our top app for offline navigation is GuruMaps.

If you do decide to download GuruMaps, you can then download our annotated route map (just click one of the file format options in the top right-hand corner of the map below – GPX, KML, or GeoJSON), and then you’ll be able to open that file using GuruMaps. Once it opens, you’ll have our annotated trail map in your own hands.

It sounds like a lot, but it’ll take 30-seconds max.

The best part of us is…

GuruMaps works without WIFI or cell service. So as long as your phone is charged, you’ll be good to go!

If you prefer a Google Map, however, that’s no biggie. Keep in mind, however, it won’t work when you’re at Black Balsam Knob, as at the time of publication, the service up there is quite spotty.

Elevation Profile

Here’s the elevation profile for the Black Balsam Knob Trail, starting and then ending at the parking spot.

Why Is Black Balsam Knob Trail Family-Friendly?

  • Well-Marked Paths: Minimizes chances of getting lost.
  • Moderate Difficulty Level: Suitable for adults and kids alike.
  • Opportunities For Education: The trail offers chances to teach kids about nature, wildlife, and hiking basics.
  • Gentle Rock Scrambles: Kids love scrambling up rocks, and there are plenty of kid-friendly rock scramble sections.

Black Balsam Knob Trail – Conclusion

The Black Balsam Knob Trail is a gem tucked away in Canton, North Carolina. Perfect for families seeking an adventurous outing, the trail offers stunning views, a moderate challenge, and the chance to bond with nature and each other. So pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and head out to this fantastic hiking spot!


  1. Is the Black Balsam Knob Trail suitable for toddlers?
  • While the trail is family-friendly, the terrain might be challenging for toddlers. It’s recommended to have a child carrier for very young kids.
  1. Are pets allowed on the trail?
  • Yes, pets are allowed, but they should be kept on a leash to ensure the safety of both the pet and the wildlife.
  1. Is there a fee to access the Black Balsam Knob Trail?
  • As of the last update, there is no fee to hike the trail, but it’s always a good idea to check the official website or local authorities for any recent changes.

+++BEFORE using this information, please read our Legal Disclaimer.+++

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