Richland Balsam Trail

At A Glance


1.47 mi one-way

Difficulty Rating: 2.31
Steepness: Some Hills
Tread Condition: Some Obstacles
Lowest Elevation: 6017 ft
Highest Elevation: 6410 ft
Climb Total: 393 ft
Blaze Color: None - see sign posts
Other Map ID: BRP MP 431


This self-guiding nature trail loop (with a short out-and-back section at the beginning) travels through a high elevation, spruce-fir forest that was devastated by a polluted environment and an introduced pest in the late 1980's. See how well the forest is now recovering - or is it?

The trail features numbered sign posts that correspond with the printed guides which will probably be out-of-stock at the beginning of the trail. The high-elevation, moss-covered and fir-covered slopes of Richland Balsam make for a pleasant hike, especially in the warmer months when the cooler temperatures will be appreciated.

The trail passes right over the summit of Richland Balsam Mountain, where there is a huge sign marking the top and a sittin' bench.

Some sections are easy and carpeted with soft needles; others are muddy and slick and there are quite a few very rocky sections to contend with, so it's a wee bit more than just a basic leg-stretcher.

This trail is located in the Blue Ridge Parkway Section 6 area. For a list of all the trails in that area, see the Blue Ridge Parkway Section 6 trails list page.

All Photos from the Trail

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Map Information

Download GPS Data

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Data Formats

KML (Google Earth)

KML is the main file type used by Google Earth. If you have Google Earth installed, clicking the KML link should open the trail or point directly in Google Earth for viewing. This is the native file format used by Google Earth, but many other map applications can use and understand KML as well, so if you're not sure which one to download, KML is a good bet.


The GPX format stands for GPS Exchange - a free, open, XML format for exchanging GPS and map data. GPX is compatible with Google Earth, many other mapping programs, and most GPS devices (such as Garmin). Load the file directly into your GPS to help find your way on your next trip!


GeoJSON is a newer, lightweight data exchange format which can be used to quickly share map data and may have a smaller size than KML or GPX. Many professional mapping and GIS applications support the GeoJSON format.

About the Map


Base Layers

Base layers provided by OpenStreetMap, the US Geological Survey, the US Forest Service, and NC OneMap. Base layer images are subject to the respective copyright policies of their owners. Base layers may not be available at all times due to system maintenance or outages.

WNCOutdoors Base Layer

The WNCOutdoors Base layer is provided by It is licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

Trail and Marker Overlays

Trail layers and downloadable data are all original works created by WNCOutdoors with guidance from a variety of sources, including ensembles of our own GPS tracks, user contributed GPS tracks, official maps and GIS data from government agencies, and field observations. WNCOutdoors data is made freely available under the Open Database License - you are free to copy and use it for any purpose under the terms of that license (summary).


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  • Click a trail for more details and to download it individually.

Trail Segments

Trails are often made up of several connecting paths which may have different characteristics, allowed uses, and seasons. This trail is divided into multiple segments as follows:

Richland Balsam - Parking to Split

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking
  • Length: 0.16 mi

Richland Balsam - Split R to Summit

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking
  • Length: 0.45 mi

Richland Balsam - Split L to Summit

  • Allowed Uses: Hiking
  • Length: 0.58 mi

Total Calculated Length: 1.19 mi

This value is derived from our underlying map data, and it may not match officially published information.



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