Great Balsam Mountains

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Great Balsam Mountains
Haywood-Jackson Overlook, October 2016 1 (cropped).jpg
Great Balsam Mountains as seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway
Highest point
PeakRichland Balsam
Elevation6,410 ft (1,950 m)
Coordinates35°22′N 82°59′W / 35.367°N 82.983°W / 35.367; -82.983Coordinates: 35°22′N 82°59′W / 35.367°N 82.983°W / 35.367; -82.983
Length21 mi (34 km)
Width18 mi (29 km)
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
Parent rangeAppalachian Mountains
Type of rockgneiss

The Great Balsam Mountains, or Balsam Mountains, are in the mountain region of western North Carolina, United States.[1][2] The Great Balsams are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which in turn are a part of the Appalachian Mountains. The most famous peak in the Great Balsam range is Cold Mountain, which is the centerpiece of author Charles Frazier's bestselling novel Cold Mountain.

The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along its length and at Richland Balsam (milepost 431), the Parkway is at its highest point (6053 feet).


Reinhart Knob

("Mountain heights".

Other landmarks[edit]


The area consists of a transition forest between the southern Appalachian spruce–fir forest (which resembles forest types found at northern latitudes) and the mixed deciduous forests of temperate America.[4]


The following trees are at higher elevations:

  • Fraser fir[5] ("balsams" or "She balsams"). Forests of these trees appear black from a distance; however, these trees are declining due to the balsam woolly adelgid.[6]
  • Red spruce[7] ("He balsams"). The red spruce is distinguished from the Fraser fir by having bark whose rosin cannot be milked (hence, "He balsams") and by having hanging cones.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Great Balsam Mountains". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ "Great Balsam Mountains". Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  3. ^ "Judaculla". Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2007-07-19.
  4. ^ Sutton, Myron; Sutton, Ann (1985). Eastern forests (Audubon Society Nature Guides). New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-394-73126-3. p43
  5. ^ "PLANTS Profile for Abies fraseri (Fraser fir)". USDA PLANTS. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  6. ^ Frankenberg, Dirk (2000). Exploring North Carolina's Natural Areas: Parks, Nature Preserves, and Hiking Trails. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-4851-4. p343
  7. ^ "PLANTS Profile for Picea rubens (red spruce)". USDA PLANTS. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  8. ^ "PLANTS Profile for Rhododendron calendulaceum (flame azalea)". USDA PLANTS. Retrieved 2007-07-18.