Black Balsam
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rom the trail head, walk along the Ivester Gap road bed until you reach
Ivester Gap. Ivester Gap marks the gateway to the Shining Rock
Wilderness, and from here the Art Loeb Trail continues into bear-hunter’s
country to Cold Mountain, the peak made famous by the book and movie of
the same name. To complete your day hike, double back from Ivester Gap
on the Art Loeb trail, away from Shining Rock and Cold Mountain. The flip
side of the panoramic views ahead of you is exposure to the elements, so
bring sun protection and maybe an extra layer, depending on the season.
The Art Loeb Trail is well marked and follows the ridgeline over two of the
regions 6,000+ foot peaks: Tennet Mountain and Black Balsam Knob. If
you feel like cutting the trip short, the Art Loeb spur is your first opportunity
to return to the parking area.  Otherwise follow the main Art Loeb trail until
you reach the paved road you turned onto when you left the parkway. You
might leave a second car here, but the .7 miles to your right passes quickly
and brings you back to your car.
Copyright 2010 by Tony Austin
Directions to trailhead:  From Lake Toxaway Estates, travel east on Highway 64. Turn left onto Highway 215
and travel 17 miles north to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn east onto the parkway (left off the ramp) and drive
three miles to the sign indicating a left turn to the Black Balsam parking area. Park your car at the area and
drive 1.2 miles and park your car.