With winter finally behind us and the splendors of spring before us, there is no better time to break out of your seasonal rut than by hitting the trail. The NC Smokies boasts miles and miles of some of the most popular hiking trails in WNC, like Black Balsam, Graveyard Fields, Devils Courthouse, Water Rock Knob, the Art Loeb Trail, Max Patch, the Cataloochee Divide Trail, just to name a few. If you love epic trail adventure, scenic views that will bring a tear to your eye, and some of the very best photo ops in Western NC, Haywood County has got a hike for you.
In addition to all the amazing trails easily accessed via the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Haywood County holds two special hiking gems that we promise will be well worth your time – Purchase Knob and the Sam’s Summit Loop Trail. These year-round accessible hiking areas are each unique in their own regard and are often much less crowded than some of the other area trails. Purchase Knob and Sam’s Summit have both been highlighted by local naturalist, Ken Czarnomski, who created beautifully illustrated hiking guides of both trails. Each free guide not only offers an easy to follow map of with specific notes, but also a details about the many “must-see” highlights of the trail along with history, hiking tips, and other useful information to make the most out of your adventure.
Purchase Knob, located along the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Haywood County, offers a wide range of biodiversity and other appealing aspects all encompassed in a four-hour or less walk. Abundant flora and fauna combined with long rang views and noteworthy points of interest like the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center and the historical Ferguson Cabin, make this one of the most well-rounded hikes in Haywood County.
The Sam’s’ Summits Loop Trail is located in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. As with the Purchase Knob guide, Ken wanted to highlight a year-round accessible hike, with the trail head located on Hwy 215 near the Blue Ridge Parkway. The hike is composed of six different trails that form a loop and can be broken down into individual shorter hikes. Features like the cascading Flat Laurel Creek Falls, incredible 360 views from the top of Sam’s Knob of Cold Mountain, Richland Balsam and Black Balsam, and even an opportunity to stroll through the dense quiet of a native spruce plantation, make this a perfect hike.
You can also snag a free copy of the Purchase Knob and Sam’s Summit Loop Trail guides by stopping by the Haywood County Visitor Center or by calling 800.334.9036. Once you’ve conquered the trails, make plans to stay the night in one of our five towns of Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Lake Junaluska, Canton, and Clyde. Enjoy local craft breweries, an eclectic culinary scene, live music venues, fun festivals, and much more. To plan your next hiking excursion in Haywood County visit www.visitncsmokies.com.