Black Rock towers above the town of Sylva, NC high atop the southern end of the Plott Balsam Range. On the summit the mountain’s namesake rock peaks above a nest of laurel and through the tips of Balsam Fir trees to give hikers long-range Appalachian views. Black Rock is surrounded by the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests and the Great Smoky Mountains National park lies due west. This ideal geographic location allows for expansive views of seemingly untouched forestry. The preferred approach to Black Rock uses a pair of picturesque trails that climb steadily from the Pinnacle Park Trailhead to the airy summit.
What Makes It Great
The 1,088 acre Pinnacle Park is easily accessible, dog friendly and even provides several camping options. Black Rock can be reached from the trailhead via two separate trails; the East and West Fork trails. The East Fork trail provides a more secluded climb, up a steeply walled ravine, which sings with a chorus of cascading rapids. The trail climbs steadily upward for 2.5 miles beside the creek and through a section adorned with rhododendron before reaching the ridge line.
After a clearly signed intersection, which directs hikers towards Black Rock, the trail begins to level out and gently traverse the mountainside for .7 miles before reaching the summit trail. Another clearly signed intersection leads hikers up a steep scramble through gnarled old growth laurels and fragrant Balsam Fir on its way to the summit. After cresting onto the summit plateau follow the purple and yellow blazes around massive boulders and up a final steep scramble to the summit of Black Rock. What truly makes Black Rock great is the summit experience. The namesake rock juts out above lush forestry and provides amazing views in all directions.
Who is Going to Love It
If you start at Pinnacle Park there is a lofty elevation gain required to reach the top. This quad-burning uphill trail is a favorite amongst exercise enthusiasts. If you pine for a well-earned summit this hike will fulfill your yearning. If you are feeling “ultra-outdoorsy” check out the Assault on Black Rock Race! Pinnacle Park is close to Western Carolina University and for that reason is quite popular amongst the student body. If your adventure begins on a weekend consider starting early to avoid the college crowds.
The adventurous type will particularly enjoy their trip to Black Rock. A variety of bouldering and risky routes, including a “diving board” like feature are available just before the summit proper! Split Rock, .5 miles up the West Fork trail, is another killer bouldering spot popular amongst locals.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The parking lot for Pinnacle Park lies at the end of Fisher Creek Rd. At the trailhead visitors will find a large sign with detailed information about the park. Maps are provided and double as permits for use of the park.
The area is patrolled so make sure to fill out a permit for your safety and their knowledge. Thanks to the town of Sylva there is no fee to visit the park. Reward their kindness by respecting the land and following LNT principles throughout your journey.