We left Gatlinburg, TN and The Great Smoky Mountains for a beautiful drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway to hike Black Balsam Knob on the Art Loeb Trail. As we were leaving GSMNP we spotted some elk and stopped to take some pictures. Then when we were getting on the BRP, there were 2 elk in the median so we stopped for more pictures. These one's were w/in about 15 feet of us. Really neat.
The drive along the parkway was spectacular. Stunning views and colors. This side of the mountains (NC side) was a lot prettier than the TN side where we hiked yesterday. The leaves had turned color more, and there were a lot more reds mixed in.
The Black Balsam Knob hike was amazing! This hike was on a section of the Art Loeb Trail. The hike starts and w/in a half mile, we were up on a bald and remained on high open ground for the entire hike. Just stunning view. We had lunch at the top of Tennent mountain at over 6,000 feet. Mt. Leconte hike yesterday we had lunch at the lodge at over 6,000 feet as well.
The trail itself was not in the best shape. It's washed out in some spots and rocky. You can tell it gets a LOT of use and not a lot of maintenance. In great contrast to the Alum Cave trail yesterday. It was slow going at times due to the trail conditions, and because of lots of stops for pictures. It's not a trail we could do a lot of miles on with heavy packs. But, the views were just fantastic and would love to do this trail again and camp out on top of one of the balds.