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Ascent of Richland Balsam in 1998

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:1998
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Richland Balsam
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:6410 ft / 1953 m

Ascent Trip Report

If the county GIS maps are correct, the summit of Richland Balsam is entirely in Jackson County.

Haywood County GIS (http://maps.haywoodnc.net/gisweb/default.htm) has 5-foot contours and shows the boundary passing just east of the summit. Only the SE corner of the 6400 contour is inside the Haywood boundary. On the north side of the peak, the top contour in Haywood County is 6395.

Jackson GIS (http://maps.jacksonnc.org/gomapsags/#) shows 20-foot contours and shows the boundary even further east, well off the summit. Screenshot attached.

The USGS quad seems to show the county boundary follows the ridgeline but also has a similar line that follows the Jackson GIS map.

The boundary problem does not affect the county highpoint status. Richland Balsam remains the Jackson COHP and was already second to Mt Guyot in Haywood County. The only question is whether Richland Balsam counts as a Haywood County peak.

The reason I investigated this was to get a GIS reading on nearby Lickstone Ridge, which looked like it might be as high as Richland Balsam. However, Haywood GIS shows Lickstone tops out at 6365, so that's no contest.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Contrary to what you see on the USGS topo, the Haywood-Jackson county line runs east and north of Richland Balsam, according to the Jackson GIS map (boundary marked by angular green line). If this is correct, the peak is entirely in Jackson County. The curved brown line is the Blue Ridge Parkway property line. The Haywood GIS map shows the boundary higher on the mountain but still not on the summit (1998). Photo by Tom Layton.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:410 ft / 124 m
    Route:NP trail
    Trailhead:Parkway wayside  6000 ft / 1828 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail



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