Plott Balsam Mountain (left) and Mount Lyn Lowry (right), viewed from Waterrock Knob
|Part of||Blue Ridge Mountains|
Great Balsam Mountains
|Highest point||Waterrock Knob|
|- elevation||6,292 ft (1,918 m)|
The Plott Balsams are a mountain range in western North Carolina, in the southeastern United States. They are part of the Blue Ridge Mountain Province of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The Plott Balsams stretch from the city of Sylva in the Tuckasegee River valley to the southwest to Maggie Valley in the northeast. The Great Smoky Mountains border the Plott Balsams to the north and the Great Balsam Mountains border the range to the south. The range comprises parts of Jackson County and Haywood County.
Waterrock Knob, which has an elevation of 6,292 feet (1,918 m), is the highest summit in the Plott Balsam Range. Four other summits in the range rise above 6,000 feet, namely 6,240-foot (1,900 m) Mount Lyn Lowry, 6,240-foot (1,900 m) Browning Knob, 6,088-foot (1,856 m) Plott Balsam Mountain, and 6,032-foot (1,839 m) Yellow Face. Other notable summits include the Pinnacle, which overlooks the Sylva area to the south, 5,810-foot (1,770 m) Blackrock Mountain (near Yellow Face), and 5,875-foot (1,791 m) Campbell Lick, which overlooks Maggie Valley.
The Blue Ridge Parkway traverses the slopes of the highest mountains in the Plott Balsam Range, connecting Soco Gap and Balsam Gap. A short road connects the parkway to an overlook and ranger station near the summit of Waterrock Knob. The Nantahala National Forest protects much of the south side of the Plott Balsam Range. The Qualla Boundary, which is the reservation for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, includes parts of the range's northwest section along Soco Creek. The city of Sylva maintains a municipal park along Fisher Creek in the southeast section of the range. A memorial dedicated to leukemia victim Lyn Lowry, who died in 1965, is situated atop Lowry's namesake mountain. The memorial includes a 60-foot (18 m) cross that is lit up at night, making it visible for miles from the surrounding towns. A stand of Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest coats the range's upper elevations.
The Plott Balsams are named for the Plott family, whose ancestor, Johannes Plott (c. 1733-1810), immigrated to North Carolina in the late 18th-century. The Plott family lived in farms along the base of the range that now bears their name, and used the mountains for hunting. The Plott Hound, a breed of hunting dog, is also named for the Plotts.