As I looked out from the top of Black Balsam, I was sure that Tennent Mountain was right in front of me. Wrong!
I knew it was a little shorter and I thought we would follow the ridge line perfectly over to its summit. Wrong again!
So, we started hiking and as we did, we met a few other people along the way. Funny thing: no one seemed to know exactly where Tennent was. They knew we were on the right trail, but as to where it was in front of us, they didn’t know.
Interesting, I thought. We hiked on, of course, because it had been a goal for some time.
The path to Tennent follows the Art Loeb trail. Just remember, these trails are not as well marked as—say—the AT.
When the trail divided, we stayed to the left . . . or was it the right. It was the left, we think. One had some small rock scrambles but nothing too much. The trail to the right (we heard) had many more. The thing we did notice was that the path started off high and began to drop. So, we were off the ridge line. I absolutely love hiking on ridges!
And the area was completely different than the top of Black Balsam, which was bald with very low vegetation.
As we hiked on, the pathway narrowed and was lined with Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron. We were high; and at certain points, seemed that we could reach out and touch the sky.
Then we began to see rocks and lots of them. Loose rocks and big downs, which means big ups on the way back. For me, this means being sure of my steps. Sadly, I noticed that my trusty leather Keens were done. This hike finished them off. I loved those shoes.
Down, down, down: we hiked on praying that Tennent would soon “pop up” on the horizon.
The Blue Ridge did—it was always before us. For most part, we were on the trail alone, and it was more than wonderful. Amazing and no sign of black bears.
Then when we finally approached Tennent, the vegetation changed again and we noticed there were native Azaleas around us along with other spring flowers—all reaching up to the sky.
Tennent Mountain has been a goal that I wanted to reach since last summer. But the closings along the Blue Ridge Parkway, prevented it. Now, it was right in front of us. It’s the little knob in this photo but when we arrived at its top, we were awe inspired.
Just awesome! Standing on the top of Tennent, I looked out over the mountains below and realized that when you set a goal and stick to it, you will reach it—maybe not in your timing but certainly in God’s.
Beautiful 360 views from the top of Tennent. If I had to make a list of “Best Hikes in North Carolina,” the 5-mile loop out to Tennent Mountain would rank in the Top 5, but realize that I’m still very new at all of this. Along this entire hike my eyes were drawn to sweeping views in all directions. It is mind boggling at how beautiful this area is.
In fact the the final half of the hike, over Tennent and neighboring Black Balsam Knob, is almost wide open. We hiked along one of the largest expanses of southern bald in the Appalachians. As one other blogger wrote: “Pictures struggle to express just how amazing this area is.” I agree totally. Even in post-processing my photos, seeking ways to bring this area ” to live” through photographs was difficult. You just need to hike it to see it!
You meet all kinds of people hiking, and Lulu’s Mom was one of those folks. When she came around from the back side of Tennent, we immediately shouted to her. She asked if she was back in the place where she had first met us! Nope, that was almost two miles back in the opposite direction on Black Balsam!
I hated to ask, (but I’m always the one that does—ask)! “How did you get here.” She had not passed us on the trail, and she left Balsam before us telling us that she was going back to the parking area. Yikes. I remembered that the Art Loeb trail intersects the Black Balsam Mountain trail at a lower point. She probably went down and out and back up. Regardless, Lulu (the dog) did not seem a bit worried about her 8 to 10 mile “Peak Bagging” day.
Pat back on top of Black Balsam before we headed back down the trail to the car. It was late and plenty of hikers were around us putting up their tents for the night. Two women (from Europe) had a drone and were racing back and forth across the bald to find the right location to launch it. One followed the other in tandem carrying two glasses of red wine. I wish I had taken that photo but my Sony A6000 had given in to its short battery life on Tennent. So, all I have is the memory.
Here’s our next challenge: Sam’s Knob—just over 6,000 feet. Hopefully, that will happen the first of July.
Sam’s knob is an imposing mountain peak located at the edge of the Shining Rock Wilderness with spectacular views! So, I can’t wait! I’ve read that its trail is a surprisingly nice and easy trail as it wraps around the mountain and ascends to its grassy, partly bald summit. We’ll pack a lunch!
Any time of year, is a great time to enjoy these hikes. I love the feeling of wearing hiking shorts in the late spring, summer, and early fall, but I also love the feeling of a heavy coat in colder months. Even in the summer, the temperatures rarely climb above the mid 70’s mainly because you start at one of the highest altitude trailheads in the region. They are not that difficult and really deliver when it comes to memorable views and fun. We have plenty of stories to tell!