Distance: 6.2 Miles RT Elevation Change: 1194 feet Difficulty: Moderate We park in the grass on the side of the parkway at the intersection of the Art Loeb Trail between the turn off to Black Balsam and the Devil’s Courthouse at approximately mile marker 421.3. Go north on the Art Loeb. The trail accents immediately from the parkway rising over 400′ in the elevation from the parkway .2 miles to the intersection of the Mountains to the Sea trail. This little section looks like it has never been logged. There are some impressive Red Spruce and Frasier Fir Trees. The trail is eroded in a few spots making the footing difficult, but in my opinion, the shortness of this section cancels out the difficulty of the steep pitch. We turned right at the junction and walked through the forest to the road leading to the Black Balsam parking lot. We turned left on the road and walked about .3 miles on the road to the parking area.
One little interesting caveat. A small spring comes up right next to this road and goes through a culvert under the road. This is actually the headwaters to the Pigeon River. The picture at left shows the spring. From there, we took the Sam Knob trail and walked across the big meadow to where we turned left. Walk about 1/4 mile and turn left on Flat Laurel Creek trail. Follow the trail to where it intersects the Little Sam trail. This is a hard right turn and if the carbonate sign is knocked down, it is easy to miss. Just stay on this trail until you intersect the Mountains to the Sea trail and turn left there. This will lead you right back to where you came up the Art Loeb from the parkway.
Flat Laurel Creek – July, 2011
Flat Laurel Creek – May, 2014