Less than thirty minutes to the summit from the picnic bench at the overlook parking area. The summit boulders are now marked with a wooden hanging sign that states the elevation as being 6080 feet while the bushwhack is starting to develop the look of a herd path. If you were to teach someone about bushwhacking in the southeast this would be a good choice of a mountain to do it on.
There's a steep gully on the parkway that offers a steep manway to the summit. No cane on this route (but it does offer some exposure at the beginning). Straight over the top and down takes you to the MST.
I started at the Cowee Mountains Overlook and followed a faint trail down to the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST). I followed the MST eastward until the southern most branch of Bearwallow Creek. Then I bushwhacked from there up the mountain and came out way down the ridge from the summit. I followed the summit ridge for about an hour, bushwhacking through the thick briars and blowdowns, and enjoying the time. It was kind of fun. Then I landed at the parkway, just before the Beartrail Ridge Overlook and followed the road to the Richland Balsam Mountain Trail.
First of all Cortez, I'd like to start by saying I must have took the wrong route. The bushwacking I experienced wasn't nearly as fun as the bushwacking you described on this mountains page. Luckily however it is a quick and easy hike, I couldn't imagine doing that for 12 - 15 miles. Thanks for the page though, would have never stopped to do it if I didn't see your page here on SP.
My final sixer (on the "official" list) Good route but not hard like everybody makes it out to be. Was kinda let down. But had a great hike (see my route, Boomer Inn Branch, YOO-HOO!)
This was an unforgiving and at time miserable bushwack through dense blackberry thickets and blowdown. The summit is surrounded by a balsam forest so there are no views.