Explore Balsam Mountain Preserve with two hikes this month, including to Jackson County’s most iconic and distinctive mountaintops. The 4,400-acre private eco-development between Waynesville and Sylva has 3,500 acres in conservation and a team of staff naturalists, who occasionally offer guided hikes and programs for the public.
• The first is the Double Top Mountain hike from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 23.
The Double Top hike is a 1.2-mile jaunt that begins at 4,700 feet and ends on the peak of Double Top at 5,481 feet. This moderately strenuous hike is less than 3 miles round trip, but includes frequent nature interpretive stops and time for lunch at the summit. The hike is limited to 20 participants, and costs $5 per person. Bring drinking water, lunch and raingear. A high-clearance vehicle is suggested if carpooling to the trailhead is needed.
• The second is a Balsam Mountain Trust Tour showcasing trees from 10 a.m. until noon on July 30. The “Magnificent Trees” survey highlights the 75 or so tree species in Balsam Mountain Preserve. This will be a combination walking/auto expedition to learn about native trees, led by Ron Lance, a botanical author and forest ecologist. The group will see some record-setting tree giants, including a 78-foot serviceberry. Ages 10 and older. The trip is limited to 20 participants, and costs $5 per person.