Sam Knob Loop

  • Highlights: Great views, rocky summit, stream crossings, wildflowers
  • Distance: 3.9 mile loop
  • Elevation change: 730 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Trailhead Parking: Blue Ridge Parkway mile 420, turn right on Black Balsam Road/Forest Road 816 and drive to the parking area at the end 
  • Website: AllTrails
  • Beer Pairings: Brevard Brewing—Nitro Stout & Juicy IPA

The Hike:

Sam Knob is located in the heart of the Pisgah National Forest near Black Balsam Knob, Tennet Mountain, and Investor Gap. This is a popular trail in a popular hiking area. On busy weekends, the parking areas will be full early. The views are stunning so get an early start for this one.

Many trails converge in this area, so finding the correct trailhead can be a bit tricky. From the parking area facing the restrooms, follow a path leading to the right (heading west). This is the Sam Knob Trail. Stay to the right and follow the path down a series of wooden steps to a large meadow. Sam Knob is straight ahead—follow the path to the far end of the meadow and turn right to reach the summit.

Blackberries and blueberries line the trail along with mountain laurel. The heavy foot traffic has worn down the path and topsoil to a rocky subsurface. The views keep getting better. Flat Laurel Creek meanders through the valley below. At 1.2 miles you reach the panoramic crest of Sam Knob. Trails branch out in all directions. Head to the right for views of Black Balsam Knob to the east. Follow the paths around the summit for 360° views.

After taking in the views from the top of Sam Knob, return on the trail to the meadow and continue on the Sam Knob Trail to the junction with the Flat Laurel Creek Trail. Turn right at the junction and cross the creek several times. In there springtime or after heavy rains, parts of the trail look like a creek bed. Great views of Sam Knob open up to your left. The trail climbs steadily over the next 1.5 miles and returns to the parking area and your vehicle.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

Brevard Brewing Company in nearby Brevard has been making handcrafted beers since 2012. Located in the heart of downtown Brevard, they have indoor seating, do not serve food, and dogs are not allowed inside. Pete enjoyed the Nitro Stout, a perfect accompaniment to a cool spring day. Kathy really liked the New England-style Juicy IPA which has fruitiness from the hops—no fruit added.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.