Ascent of Plott Balsam Mountain on 2015-11-08

Climber: Bradley R

Date:Sunday, November 8, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Plott Balsam Mountain
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:6088 ft / 1855 m

Ascent Trip Report

How I chose this hike: I wanted to knock some peaks out on the "South Beyond 6000" List.

The plan: Climb from the Waterrock Knob parking lot to the top of Waterrock Knob, the follow the unnamed, to my knowledge, trail on the Plott Balsam ridge to the top of Lyn Lowry then Plott Balsam.

Where to park: Put "Rd to Waterrock Knob" into Google Maps and look up directions and it should take you almost perfectly to the parking area.

The Hike: Hiked alone and followed the plan! From the parking lot it was a steep half mile to the top of Waterrock. Backtrack just a little, maybe 50 to 100 feet and there's a narrow trail to the right. This trail follows the ridge to Lyn Lowry after ~2.4 miles total of hiking. As you near the summit the trail runs right by a very nice cabin, 100 yards past the cabin is an observation deck where some of the best views of the day could be taken in. To the NW there was a partly sunny vista of about 120 degrees where you could see thin clouds sitting atop Mt. LeConte and Clingmans Dome. To the SE was an overcast vista also of about 120 degrees. Despite quite a few clouds visibility was good.
Just past the observation deck you climb into a pack of trees and soon reach the true summit of Lyn Lowry. From the summit there are no views.
Coming down the other side of the summit you reach the cross dedicated to Lyn Lowry who died at age 15 fighting Leukemia in 1962. The views here are beautiful, similar to those from the observation deck plus you can look down on Maggie Valley. Up until the cross the trail was blazed, the blazes stopped after the cross, but there were some orange and pink flags to follow.
After the cross I continued to Plott Balsam. The trail drops steeply into the woods, from here there would be no more views. After a while on the steep trail you come to a maintained, but seemingly infrequently used road wide enough for one vehicle, where 4 wheel drive is probably needed. To reach the summit of Plott Balsam you follow this road for about .75 miles. After this I followed the pink and orange flags up a bushwhack for about .25 miles to the summit of Plott Balsam. This was 4.25 miles of hiking from the parking lot. The high point was among a small group of trees, again there are no views here.
Follow this route in reverse to return to the parking lot.
There is no water source along the trail (the cabin has a water spigot on the side I might would try in an emergency, but it's someone else's property).

Other Notes: I had started to Plott Balsam once before via the same route. I took a wrong turn at Fork Ridge. At the time it was summer and everything was overgrown. I took a left at Fork Ridge because it looked much more like a trail than the ridge to Lyn Lowry. This time at Fork Ridge there was a tree painted purple, to me this means private property, no trespassing. I don't recall this from last time. In addition as I mentioned earlier there were blazes to Lyn Lowry (I think they were orange), I don't recall there being any blazes last time, just a flag here and there.
In addition the trail was extremely overgrown last time, this time it was beat down and trimmed, this made for a much more comfortable hike.
After getting off of the trail to Waterrock I saw no other people which was nice, though I still didn't feel very secluded because of the roads, cabin, cross and deck.
In reality this was a beautiful hike, though there were no views beyond Lyn Lowry. The only wildlife I saw were squirrels and a pair of quail that made me jump, there was some bear sign, though not fresh.
Finally Lyn Lowry and Plott Balsam are both on private property, so be courteous of their property.

Stats: The stats I have listed for this hike are under Waterrock Knob are vertical gain which I calculated based on the low point and high point of the hike. In reality this is a very hilly hike and much more elevation was gained and lost.
Distance and time up are each based on when I left the parking lot until I turned around on Plott Balsam. Similarly Distance down and time down are from the turn around back to the parking lot.
Based on RunKeeper there was a total of 2500+ feet of climbing in this hike.
Summary Total Data
    Route:Unnamed Ridge Trail from Waterrock
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
Ascent Part of Trip: Waterrock 2

Complete Trip Sequence:
 Waterrock Knob2015-11-08 ai2542 ft / 775 m
 Browning Knob2015-11-08 bh 
 Fork Ridge2015-11-08 cg 
 Mount Lyn Lowry2015-11-08 df 
 Plott Balsam Mountain2015-11-08 e 
Total Trip Gain: 2542 ft / 775 m    Total Trip Loss: 2542 ft / 775 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Bradley R
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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