Offroading & Other DestinationsOutdoor Fun

Balsam Mountain Offroading: Heintooga Round Bottom Road

In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just outside of Cherokee, NC, is a 14-mile trail known as Heintooga Round Bottom Road.

It looked pretty tame, so Lynnette and I decided to give it a spin in our Jeep.

I shot all the video. She snapped all the photos.

To take a road less traveled, drive to Balsam Mountain via the Heintooga Ridge Road that starts at the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 458.2, just 11 miles from the south end of the Parkway.


The good news is that just about anyone can take this trip. A 4WD vehicle is not required.

The highlight of the trip was this rocky water crossing.

The entire way, we only passed 2 other vehicles and 1 mountain biker… and we just happened to capture both cars going through the water. (The other one is in the video below.)

While our summer ride was OK, I imagine that the real secret here is that this will be a great ride in the Fall when the colors are at their peak. At that time of the year, when the rest of the Smoky Mountains look like the entrance to Disney World, this little gem on Balsam Mountain may offer a quiet getaway off of the main trail!

Here is our video footage from Heintooga Round Bottom Road along Balsam Mountain:

Here’s another view of Heintooga Roundbottom Road from a fellow Jeep owner:

Heintooga-Round Bottom Road is a 15-mile, one-way, primitive gravel road leading from Balsam Mountain Road to Big Cove Road. It took us a couple hours to drive. Starting from a mile high, this road travels through lush second growth forest and along cascading streams. Brenda filmed this while standing on he seat, up through the sunroof of our Jeep. We did not see another human being the entire drive!