View – the nearly 360 degree view from the 5072 ft. Pilot Mountain summit gives commanding views of the mountain ranges to the east and to the west in the Pisgah National Forest, including Black Balsam and Looking Glass Rock.
Hike Profile –the out and back hike follows the Art Loeb trail from the BRP to the summits of Sassafras Knob (4938 feet) and Pilot Mountain (5072 feet). After coming back down from Pilot Mountain, the trail returns to Farlow Gap via the FS 229 road (by-passing Sassafras Knob) and then back to the BRP on the Art Loeb trail. The trail is a moderate descent and climb and is much easier than the ascent of Pilot Mountain from Gloucester Gap.
Trail Surface – mostly smooth dirt with some roots. A few areas have eroded with stones showing.
Environment – an upland forest with rhododendron and mountain laurel on the steeper mountain sides. The FS 229 road goes through mostly open forest land with some rhododendron.
Navigation – the Art Loeb II Trail starts at the BRP and descends to Farlow Gap where it intersects with the Farlow Gap Trail. The Art Loeb goes to the right across the summit of Sassafras Knob down past a shelter to Deep Gap where it intersects with FS 229. There are a couple of trails near the shelter but pass in front of the shelter and then keep heading down and slightly left. You may pick up the Art Loeb trail but mostly likely you will find yourself on the FS 229 road which is really a rocky trail at this point. To pick up the Art Loeb trail again, proceed down FS 229 a very short way and take a spur trail to the right where the gap is most level and close to the road. About 20 yards up the spur trail, you will return to the Art Loeb trail for the climb to Pilot Mountain summit.
On the return trip, descend to Deep Gap and return to FS 229. Instead of climbing Sassafras Knob on the Art Loeb trail, continue on FS 229 and go around Sassafras Knob to Farlow Gap. At Farlow Gap, take a right on the Art Loeb trail and return to the trailhead on the BRP.
Directions to Trailhead – the Art Loeb II trailhead is located 1 mile west of the Black Balsam access road that is located near milepost 420 on the BRP. The trailhead is difficult to see coming from Black Balsam. It is located on the south side of the BRP and faces west so it’s not really visible unless you approach it from the other direction. There is a wide, grassy area alongside the BRP where you can park. The BRP curves somewhat sharply to the right around a ridge at this point.
Wild Mountain Azaleas