When we moved to Asheville nearly 3 years ago, we had already visited the area at least a dozen times for extended vacations! We had taken mountain bike rides in Bent Creek, Dupont, and Pisgah. We took the long and scenic routes by trying to utilize the Blue Ridge Parkway whenever possible and of course every time we’d visit we’d discover a new spot and say to ourselves, “man it really doesn’t get much better than this!” The only thing was each time we were on vacation so we never took the time to slow down and explore below the surface level. After moving here it really gave us the opportunity to not just visit an area like Pisgah but find the spots that people travel from all over to see. As many of you know one of our favorite places in Craggy Gardens, and we love the waterfalls in Dupont State Forrest, but by far our favorite spot we’ve discovered in the past few years has been Black Balsam Knob!
For those who have never been, it is about an hour outside of Asheville and can easily be accessed by the Blue Ridge Parkway! There are so many things we love about this spot! For starters if you are thinking about going on a little adventure and exploring, there’s usually plenty of cars parked at the main point of entry to the trail so it’s hard to miss. This being said, sometimes parking can be a little tight during the warmer months so be patient when you arrive. From where you can park until the top (6200+ feet), if you hike non-stop it’s about a 20 minute trek to the top! If you’re considering doing your engagement photos there or even eloping, follow along with us and we’ll show you some of our favorite features along the way!
When you first park, one of the coolest spots is also one of the easiest to miss if your solely focused on just going to the top! We noticed this spot after visiting a couple times and were soon informed that many of the locals that grew up in this area call it the enchanted forrest! When you enter, you can totally see why! The soft lighting combined with the rows and rows of trees makes for beautiful scenery unlike any other in the area!
As you start to ascend the trail there are several little spots along the way that depending on the lighting can make for lovely little spots to stop and share a laugh or a close cuddle!
One of our favorite spots as things start to open up is on the right side facing back towards the road you just drove in on! There always seems to be just the right amount of golden grass and moody skies to give couples those close intimate photos and give us all the feels!
As you continue to ascend you will soon reach the first of several overlooks all of which are breathtaking. The views from these spots at any given time of the year from fall to winter to spring can be phenomenal! Something about this particular location also always seems to lend it self to a beautiful sunset sky, perfect for your engagement session!
From there it’s on to the summit where the view only gets better! The top is such an amazing spot and unique to the terrain. It’s almost flat similar to Max Patch and you’ll usually see many tents set up for campers ready to catch the sunrise the next morning. The wavy fields of grass and 360 mountain views really make the drive and hike worthwhile! From here you can explore all the little trails cutting in and out and around the area to find the spot that is just right for you!
Having visited Black Balsam Knob more than a few times now, we would highly recommend the following tips for couples who are looking to do their engagement photos or any other special occasion up here!
Bring a jacket
Be mentally prepared for wind
Bring good hiking shoes
Bring some water
Bring a leash if you bring you dog
Take your time, the rocks can be slick
Enjoy the view!
The above tips are not absolutes but based on experience it can get chilly up at 6200ft above sea level, and it always seems to be windy up at Black Balsam, don’t stress embrace it! If you’re comfortable in dress shoes, more power to you, but if you’re that person that rolls your ankle a lot of loses your footing easily, definitely consider a more capable pair of active shoes! There is minimal shade once you start reaching the views up at Black Balsam so on a warm day, especially if you’re not used to the elevation, staying hydrated is a must. Black Balsam is uber dog friendly but it’s a great idea to bring a leash as there will likely be a bunch of other dogs in the area as well. As you reach the slightly steeper parts of the ascent, the rocks can be slick even on dry days so make sure to take your time! Lastly, enjoy the view! We always try to give the couples we work with a few minutes in between and at the end of all of the different locations we shoot because engagement photos are cool but part of what makes this fun is the beautiful scenery! You will feel like you’re on an adventure and if this is your first time visiting we want you to be able to take it all in!
Thanks as always for following along and we hope you’ve enjoyed checking out Black Balsam!
Joe & Jenny