During my trip to Balsam in July, I got this really wild and crazy idea—hike at least six of the over 6,000 peaks in North Carolina and Tennessee. There are supposed to be 40 of these. We’ve made a commitment to hiking six before the first of the year! So, far we have hiked four peaks and will do two more in October. The hike up Richland Balsam was so much fun. These are hikes that most anyone can do. They are labeled strenuous but that is because they go up! They start out beautiful and quickly go to a wild setting that is over the top fun to hike through.

I fell in love with the wild flowers that dotted the pathway.

We were there later on Sunday afternoon and thunder chased us but even that was wonderful. How many times do you get to walk through deep woods hearing thunder in the distance? No airplanes, no cars, and no one else but you hiking in a Balsam air conditioned forest!

The hikes that I’m doing right now are all off the Blue Ridge Parkway and near where we are staying in Balsam. The first .25 mile of the Richland Balsam Mountain trail is lined with moss, Balsam trees, and carpeted with soft moss and ferns. We said it looked like someone had literally sprayed the fallen trees.

Then we reached the ridge line of the mountain and began to hike along it until we were at the summit. For me, this was “other world” looking.

The ridge is so obvious. Tree lines go down on both sides and you walk right through them on top of a soft pine needle packed trail.

Many of these peaks do not have overlooks. The summit is tucked in the tree line. We used our GPS apps to make sure we had reached the destination. Some have signs marking the summit like this one and others don’t. I have read that some of the trails are so dense that I’ll have to bush wack my way to the top. I’m saving those for last—like next year.

When you do get a chance to see the mountains they are stunning. The Blue Ridge Mountains: Someone in the group said, “We are hiking above the clouds,” and on a couple of days, we were. Rain showers were all around us but we never felt a drop.

These trails are eerily wonderful. I  tossed these photos in because they were so unusual. There were so many different varieties of mushrooms along the trail. The one above seems pretty perfect. We didn’t gather any for dinner! No Chanterelles here or none that we could find.

These are pretty odd things: the above photo is of a sea shell and the one below of a white dove feather. I have no idea how either one got to this same spot. They were within inches of one another. How can there be seashells on top of a 6,400 foot mountain?

And how did a sweet dove feather land on this bench? We’ll never know.