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Balsam Mountain Driving Trail


Balsam Mountain Driving Trail
has a picturesque picnic area and an overlook with restrooms.

Directions: From Soco Road in Maggie Valley go south on the Blue Ridge Parkway (towards Great Smoky Mountains National Park) for approximately 2 miles. Turn right on the Balsam Campground spur road and drive to the end of the paved road (about 9 miles). Continue onto Balsam Mountain Road (also known as Roundbottom Road). This is a one way, grass and dirt road known for its twists and a profusion of wildflowers. Due to road conditions, it closes on November 1 for the winter and reopens in April. Wind your way down Balsam Mountain to Big Cove Road and continue into Cherokee. This is a wonderful road for 4 wheelers and nature photographers.

From Heintooga, you can return the way you came or take the one-way Balsam Mountains Road to Cherokee. The first 18 miles are unpaved but in good condition for passenger vehicles (no buses, trailers, or motorhomes). It takes about an hour to return to Cherokee on the scenic Balsam Mountain Road.

Near the campground entrance, a short self-guiding nature trail provides an orientation to the area's northern hardwood and spruce-fir forest. Heintooga Picnic Area and Overlook are one mile beyond the campground. Restrooms are also available here. The overlook offers views of the vast wilderness where some Cherokee Indians retreated to avoid removal on the tragic Trail of Tears. From the picnic area you can either turn around and return the way you came or continue down the one-way, gravel Balsam Mountain Road. Driving time to Cherokee is about one hour via the Balsam Mountain Road which is maintained in conditions suitable for passenger cars.

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