RWR Day 22 – Richland Black Balsam

Day 22 was a day of highlights. At Milepost 431.5, we reached the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway--Richland Black Balsam, elevation 6053 feet. But even more exciting was that Don Lister, the only person to have ever run the entire Blue Ridge Parkway to date, drove over and found me. We had lunch in Waynesville after the run.

Day 22 Run

David at the Peak of Richland Black Balsam
David at the Peak of Richland Black Balsam

The day started at Milepost 420.2, just over a mile south of Graveyard Fields. Rolling hills but a net downhill for the first 6 miles allowed me quicker speeds than expected. Then the climb to Richland Black Balsam begin, reaching the peak 11.5 miles into the run. From there, it was down, down, down. Milepost 440 (missing as was 420) would have been right before the Village of Saunook Overlook. That's where we ended the run, with about 3.5 miles of descent left to Balsam Gap.

I felt great most of the day; however, 8 miles of relatively steep downhill left me with a few sore spots--quads, hip flexor, IT Band. A little heat and ice tonight should have me ready to go again tomorrow.

Again today, long range views were stunning. We have uploaded scores to BRPWeather.Com and will let them tell the story.

Here are details of the run...

Photos and Video

The App Ortho Photo of the Day

Just South of the Peak of Richland Black Balsam
Just South of the Peak of Richland Black Balsam

We placed today's photos on From the Google Map on BRPWeather.Com, zoom into the region southeast and south of Waynesville, NC, to see some spectacular long range views. By the way, you can upload your photos to also; just click on the Photo link and follow the process--it's quick and easy!

We made three videos today: the start, one at Richland Black Balsam, and the ending video.

Location Information

Balsam Mountain Inn
Balsam Mountain Inn
We are staying tonight at an amazing old hotel--the Balsam Mountain Inn. It was built between 1905 and 1908. At the time there was no road to bring in wood so they set up a sawmill on site to provide lumber. Balsam Gap was once home to the highest passenger rail station in the east, and guests at the inn – then called the Balsam Mountain Springs Hotel – took day trips to nearby Balsam Mountain Peaks. The inn originally had 100 rooms. It's a fantastic building with 100-foot porches lined with rocking chairs and ferns. Want TV? Forget it. This is place for quiet and relaxation. Dinner and breakfast is served each day. We'll get breakfast in the morning (so I can't review it yet), but dinner was as good as any I have had on the entire journey. Their history is fascinating; for more details, see

Weather Covered

We have two stations nearby with custom forecast for the region. First,  WaynesvilleWeather.Com has a weather station located atop Mast General Store in Downtown Waynesville. And... BRPWeather.Com has a station located at the Parkway maintenance area at Balsam Gap. They are provide weather data and the most reliable forecasts for the region.

Waite Financial

waiteA huge thanks to a last minute supporting sponsor Waite Financial based in Hickory and also servicing clients in the High Country..  Principle officer, Katherine Newton, has been in the financial industry for over 30 years helping clients meet their goals, providing advice and managing assets rather than selling products.  A hallmark of Katherine's work is listening first, then honoring and protecting clients' intentions and dreams.  In Katherine's own words, "The work I do is entirely focused on my clients and what is important to them, being careful NEVER to use investment-speak or acronyms specific to my trade. Many mornings I wake up and pinch myself, as I am incredibly grateful and happy to have the relationships I have and to do the work that I do."

Parkway Attractions and History

The section we covered today is pretty simple to describe--amazing view, after view, after view. The scenes from Richland Black Balsam to Mt Pisgah are the most dramatic of the entire run. If you have never visited this area, you gotta come. Hiking and cycling opportunities abound.


The Day 23 run is probably the 2nd most difficult of the entire run.We descend for 3.5 miles to Balsam Gap. From there, it's a 2400-foot climb in 8 miles to Waterrock Knob. After a brief descent, there's another 700 foot climb during a 3-mile stretch. We'll end the day about 9 miles from the south end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are details about the route ...

3 Comments on “RWR Day 22 – Richland Black Balsam

  1. Oh me, Ray. I’m about speechless that you have made this all happen. Best of luck tomorrow!!

  2. Glad you and Mr. Lister got connected today, Ray…bet there were some “war stories” exchanged over lunch! Best wishes on that final “long” day tomorrow – hope those ups and downs are less tormenting on your legs.

  3. The Balsam Mountain Inn is pretty cool. They have a neat singer-songwriter event there from time to time. We did a story on them some years ago on our website.

    Looking good! Near the finish! Can you believe it??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *