Black Balsam Knob – North Carolina

Black Balsam Knob is a beautiful mountain bald located along the Art Loeb Trail in North Carolina. At just 1.5 miles round trip and less than 400 feet of elevation gain, it’s an easy and scenic hike perfect for hikers of all experience levels.

The trailhead to Black Balsam Knob is located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, by milepost 420. The hike begins with a gradual ascent through the forest, which quickly gives way to a more rocky and exposed landscape. You’ll find yourself atop the first of several mountain balds that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains (when the weather is clear, unlike the day we visited unfortunately).

Continue along a gentle saddle up to the next bald, which is Black Balsam Knob. You’ll reach the summit at about 3/4 of a mile. Take your time enjoying the beautiful views before turning around and heading back down the trail to the parking area.

The hike to Black Balsam Knob is short and sweet, making it a great option for beginner hikers or folks visiting from out of town. What’s your favorite hike in North Carolina?

How to Spend a Weekend in Asheville

Over Labor Day weekend, my husband and I traveled down to Asheville, NC to visit some friends who live in the area. I had been to Asheville a handful of times before but my husband had never been, so we were really excited to explore the city together! Here are my top recommendations for how to spend a weekend in Asheville.

Grab a Drink at Sierra Nevada Brewery

Our first night in town our friends took us to Sierra Nevada Brewery, technically in the nearby town of Fletcher. The taproom is absolutely massive, featuring an indoor dining room, outdoor kitchen/bar, garden, and an outdoor stage for live music. The whole space was really laidback and fun to explore, and even though it was busy, the property was large enough that it never felt crowded. I tried an Oktoberfest beer which was delicious! Asheville is definitely known for its breweries, and Sierra Nevada is one of the best.

Hike to Black Balsam Knob

Our first full morning in Asheville we set off for the Blue Ridge Parkway to hike up to Black Balsam Knob. The weather was very chilly, windy, and rainy – which we weren’t super prepared for – but we still had a blast! The hike follows the Art Loeb Trail up to Black Balsam Knob, a beautiful mountain bald with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains. The hike is short, sweet, and scenic, perfect for visitors from out of town! I plan to write up a whole blog post with more info about this hike, so stay tuned.

Enjoy Some Amazing Food

Asheville has a surprisingly amazing food scene, and we definitely ate good on our trip. Even though I didn’t take many pictures of the meals we enjoyed, every single one of them was delicious! For breakfast, we enjoyed some biscuits at Biscuit Head, a super popular spot that offers all kinds of biscuit platters and sandwiches. Lunch one day was at Laughing Seed Cafe, a delicious vegetarian-friendly spot in downtown Asheville where I got some amazing (albeit a bit ugly) loaded fries. Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack was also a great lunch spot that even offers vegan chicken! Finally, we also enjoyed some tasty tacos from White Duck Taco Shop, which features fun menu items like Greek and Korean-inspired tacos.

Spend an Evening Bar-Hopping

Though Asheville is better known for its breweries, the downtown area is also home to some awesome and unique bars. The first stop on our evening of bar-hopping was Citizen Vinyl, a record store/cafe/bar that also prints its own records! I got a gin and citrus cocktail which was delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed the art deco-inspired interior.

Next up was Top of the Monk, an intimate rooftop bar with a casual, unfussy vibe. I tried a tropical drink with toasted coconut (which was lit on fire right in front me!) and even though it wasn’t my favorite drink of the night, the fun, laidback atmosphere more than made up for it.

Our last stop was Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, a small cocktail bar situated inside a bookstore! This was definitely my favorite bar of the night, and the sangria I ordered was absolutely delicious. We all had fun sipping on champagne and wine and browsing the extensive collection of books.

Visit Biltmore

One of the most popular attractions in Asheville is the Biltmore Estate, the largest home in the country which was built by the legendary Vanderbilt family. I have actually toured Biltmore before but Solomon had never been, so we wanted to at least stop by for him to see the property. We didn’t go inside the house this time, but we did get to explore the gardens and conservatory which were beautiful. There is a lot to see and do on the Biltmore property, and it’s definitely worth a trip if you’ve never been.

Explore the River Arts District

Last, but certainly not least, was the River Arts District (RAD), a super artsy and quirky neighborhood of Asheville. RAD is full of art galleries, studios, vintage shops, and some great food and drink spots. We grabbed a beer at Wedge Brewery before checking out some thrift stores and then ended our visit with a trip to Summit Coffee, where I got a delicious iced maple latte.

Asheville is an amazing weekend destination in the Southeast. With amazing food, drinks, hiking, shopping, and so much more, there’s really something for everyone to enjoy. Huge thanks to Grant and Callan for hosting us and showing us around this awesome city!