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Great Balsam Mountains facts for kids

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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
Peak Richland Balsam
Elevation 6,410 ft (1,950 m)
Length 21 mi (34 km)
Width 18 mi (29 km)
Country United States
State North Carolina
Parent range Appalachian Mountains
Type of rock gneiss

The Great Balsam Mountains, or Balsam Mountains, are in the mountain region of western North Carolina, United States. 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 from Caney Fork Overlook, Oct 2016 (cropped)
Reinhart Knob


Other landmarks


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.


The following trees are at higher elevations:

  • Fraser fir ("balsams" or "She balsams"). Forests of these trees appear black from a distance; however, these trees are declining due to the balsam woolly adelgid.
  • Red spruce ("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.


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