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Mountains-to-Sea Trail: Segment 2

Difficult
 4.3 (8)

The Balsams


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Map Key

62.7

Miles

100.8

KM

90%

Runnable

5,953' 1,814 m

High

3,348' 1,020 m

Low

9,056' 2,760 m

Up

9,927' 3,026 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

60%

Max Grade (31°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The Blue Ridge Parkway often closes during inclement weather and in winter, making large sections of this segment inaccessible except at major road crossings, which may be too far apart for day use. Wintertime travel in this segment will require careful planning.

Section Of

Need to Know

Camping is prohibited on all Blue Ridge Parkway property except in designated campgrounds. Primitive camping is allowed anywhere on the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. Before setting up a backcountry camp, please confirm that you are not within the BRP boundaries.

Description

This segment, located in one of the most biodiverse areas of the world, showcases that diversity. Nearly all the major plant communities of the southern Appalachians are represented, from spruce-fir forests typically found in Canada to rich cove forests, and from rhododendron thickets to heath balds— and even a little of the rare spray cliff community. Around every corner is a view greater than the one before it. And the myriad streams and waterfalls provide delightful coolness even on the hottest summer day.

Although it parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway and can generally be accessed from the Parkway, most of Segment 2 is in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. With the exception of the trail within the Middle Prong Wilderness Area, the MST in Segment 2 is generally well marked with white blazes, either painted on or affixed to trees or signposts. Within the Wilderness Area (EB Miles 37.7 to 42.3, WB Miles 21.4 to 25.9), blazes are not permitted. Throughout this segment, the tread of the trail can be indistinct and difficult to follow in places.

Highlights include:
• The four-state views from Waterrock Knob, at 6,292 feet, is the highest point on Segment 2 and the third-highest point on the entire MST
• Skinny Dip Falls, a popular waterfall and swimming hole
• The nearly trackless expanse of the Middle Prong Wilderness Area
• The views over the ghost forest of Graveyard Fields
• The tourist haven of the Pisgah Inn, with its famous restaurant

For more information, including camping, lodging, parking, shuttles, and resupply information, as well as detailed, turn-by-turn directions, download a trail guide from the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

The trail in this segment is maintained by the Carolina Mountain Club.

Flora & Fauna

Hemlocks, pines, oaks, maples and lots of ferns. Deer and many species of birds.

Contacts

Shared By:

Jim Grode with improvements by Jean-Claude Linossi

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 8 votes

#6829

Overall
  4.3 from 8 votes
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Trail Rankings

#214

in North Carolina

#6,829

Overall
130 Views Last Month
7,335 Since Mar 10, 2016
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Photos

Rays and ridges from Waterrock Knob. Photo by Robert Stephens.
Mar 24, 2016 near Maggie…, NC
sunrise at Waterrock Knob
Mar 23, 2020 near Maggie…, NC
Turk's Cap Lilies in July
Jul 22, 2018 near Maggie…, NC
MST eastbound entering the Middle Prong Wilderness.  No signs from here until you hit NC 215
Sep 25, 2020 near Cullowhee, NC
Snow-covered and wind-blown
May 29, 2015 near Brevard, NC
Skinny Dip Falls
Aug 11, 2018 near Brevard, NC

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