We are sharing tales from the MST as hikers are pursuing the 40 Hike Challenge.

This week we are exploring the Great Day Hike #03: The Balsams: Waterrock Knob to Fork Ridge Overlook (with a few bonus miles tacked on for good measure!) hiked by Danny Bernstein

When you invite someone for dinner, you don’t say “Here’s a little something. That’s all I feel like eating.” No, you make a proper meal with several courses which will last a couple of hours of good conversation. It’s the same principle with hikes. When you invite people to join you on a day hike, you need to offer them a full day hike.

Daisy and I are working through the Great Day Hikes on North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail book. The trail left Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hike 3 is from Waterrock Knob to Fork Ridge Overlook on Blue Ridge Parkway land – 2.5 miles one-way. No one is sharing cars right now. So the minimum hike length would be 5 miles – still not a day hike.

When Daisy and I asked our Covid hiking friends to come along on an MST hike #3, we needed to lengthen the hike. We parked our cars at Woodfin Cascade at MP 446 and found the cascades.

Woodfin Cascades

This section of trail up to Waterrock Knob is up, up, up. Carolina Mountain Club built the trail and finished years after I walked the whole MST. Before the trail was open, we walked the Blue Ridge Parkway through this section. Waterrock Knob, deemed the most challenging section of the MST to build, was dedicated in 2016.

Once we reached the parking area at Waterrock Knob, we just had to walk up to the top, to the knob. See the view at the top of this post. By then, it was lunch time and many people were struggling to get up the half-mile to the top. We didn’t let on that we had already walked over five miles and had the same length to return to our cars.

Piet’s Bench

We had lunch around Piet’s Place, a bench put up by CMC to honor Piet Bodenhorst , the crew leader for this marvelous construction. Then we reluctantly headed back. Lots of spring flowers, flowers that we saw a while back at lower altitude.

Flowers on the Waterrock Knob area-

We walked 11.3 miles with over 2,200 feet of altitude. I think we gave our friends a good hike.

I just finished hiking all the trails in DuPont Forest. So why have I started another hiking challenge? You know what George Mallory said…



We invite you to hike all 40 of the hikes in Great Day Hikes – take the 40 Hike Challenge!  If you’ve hiked one of the 40 Hikes, share your story with us. Hashtag #MST40Hike or email with your tale.

MST 40 Hike Challenge