Richland Balsam, a mountain near Waynesville, North Carolina, rises to 6,410 feet and is the highest peak on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Visitors can reach the summit on a 1.5 mile, self-guided loop trail that passes through a spruce-fir forest.
The term “balsam” is commonly applied to Fraser fir and red spruce, the scent of which permeates the fresh air on the mountain. Two varieties of spruce grow at Richland Balsam: “he-balsam” has rough bark and prickly needles like a man’s beard and “she-balsam” has smooth barked fir with shiny flat needles.
Other plants such as blackberry and elderberry grow where the firs have been knocked over by windstorms, opening the forest floor to sunlight.
We recommend stopping at this overlook, located at Mile Post 431, for a picture in front of both the incredible view and the large sign located here signifying the relevance of this spot.