I know I’ve promised to finished up the Yosemite trip but right now I wanted to write about our trip to Sylva before I forget it. We hiked there several Sundays ago with our friends from Upstate Hiking who were tolerant enough and strong enough to make it to Blackrock (which is really a rock), not just a trail.
The hike starts in the Pinnacle Park parking lot (which is quite ample) and continues up, up, and more up on the West Fork Trail until it intersects with the Pinnacle Trail.
If you take the trail to the left, you will reach The Pinnacle. The trail actually looks like it dead ends into the rhododendron (at the fire ring) but if you take a left through the bushes you will shortly come out onto the rocks where you should be able to see the town of Sylva from above. The group stopped here and had a quick lunch. It got a little chilly as the sun ducked in and out of the clouds.
Soon after finishing lunch, we decided to move on and tackle the trail up to Blackrock. This trail can be reached by taking the Pinnacle past the two trails that enter to your right. You should soon come upon the Blackrock Trail to your left (the Pinnacle Trail ends right here). This is where the very steep up starts (again). Mr. T and I had tried this hike on another occasion but got stopped by thunder and lightning and brambles. This time we found the trail had been cleared by a local Boy Scout troop (so we were told) having received information from some people we met over in Panthertown Valley. It is supposed to be only .6 of a mile but it feels much longer. We trudged uphill for a good half an hour and reached the first large rock. The trail goes downhill to the left around this rock (under an overhang), skirts another hill to the right, and goes down under another large overhang. This is the bottom of Blackrock. Look for a place to climb up and around the rock to the right of it. Blackrock will be to your left. Views here are very good and well worth the effort. I noted the trail continued on and of course I wanted to see where it went. The sign says it goes to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Nothing changes!
We reached the rock and had some bit of time to ourselves but soon were joined by a lone hiker from the Sylva area. He very kindly answered my questions about local hiking (in Sylva) which he described as limited. After spending about a half hour or more on the rock, we made our way back to the Pinnacle Trail and shot down the East Fork Trail towards the parking lot. We ran into one couple coming up to Blackrock at this point. I would say that we saw about seven people other than ourselves all day so we weren’t dealing with crowds. Yeah. This trail was very steep (but not as rocky as the trail we came up).
Our hike up was billed at an approximate 3,300 foot elevation gain. We were all glad when we reached the bottom as it was getting late in the day. I would say this hike was much slower than normal due to the steep elevation so if you are going to do this hike give yourself ample time to finish it. Plus you want to make sure you give yourself time to enjoy the views at both places.
As the parking lot was in sight, I came across a woman and her mother who engaged me in conversation. The mother was trying to get into shape to hike the mountains as she was new to the area and I hope I gave her some encouragement! She and I talked about hiking poles and why I liked them and her adult daughter seemed very happy with that and other advice. Maybe someday she can make it to the top. A worthy goal.
You can find this hike described in Danny Bernstein’s book Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage.
Mileage: 10.1 Miles
Difficulty: Very strenuous