Shining Creek-Old Butt Knob Loop Trail

HARD 17 reviews
#23 of 114 trails in

Shining Creek-Old Butt Knob Loop Trail is a 8.4 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Canton, NC that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

8.4 miles 3065 feet Loop

dog friendly




nature trips




wild flowers

Wonderful S. Appalachian creek and cove, Shining Rock, and views galore. This loop is not blazed because it is located in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. Some trail junctions are very difficult to recognize. I strongly suggest not attempting this hike without a topo map of the area. A GPS and experience in route finding are also very helpful. Begin on Shining Creek trail (old roadbed) from the Big East Fork Trailhead. Ascend along the creek most of the way to the Art Loeb Trail at the top of the ridge (approximately 4.1 miles). Turn right. You'll see Shining Rock after about 0.5 miles. Stay to the right and ascend uphill near the rock. Just past the trail on the left that leads to the top of the rock for spectacular views look for a faint trail on the right. Turn here on Old Butt Knob Trail. This junction may be difficult to recognize. Continue down this trail to rock outcrops with great views. Continue descending until you intersect with Shining Creek Trail again. Turn left to return to the trailhead.

1 month ago

Hike the creek side first. The return up Old Butt Knob is steep but better going up then down. Suggest doing this as a day hike. Fully loaded pack up Old Butt Knob will be challenging.

3 months ago

Hard trail... Very strenuous the first part... Good training for a longer hike (AT). Started at 10am and ended at 4pm , not a lot of breaks... The top of the mountain is overgrown in some sections and a little confusing. Good adventure but not recommend for the casual hiker.

4 months ago

awesome memory . Quite a challenge

5 months ago

Went up Old Butt Knob, up Art Loeb and back down to parking area by the shining creek path. Started right before 9am and got back at 4pm - covering ~16.5 miles in total (per my watch). A few thoughts:
(1) the climb up old butt knob is fairly strenuous, as has been discussed, but I can confirm (2) once off the trailhead, going up old butt knob, I saw zero water sources until I was back on shining creek path. Maybe I didn't know where to look, but I took two liters of water with me on a fairly warm June day and I would not have known where to find water up on the Art Loeb section of my walk. If you area headed up that way to camp, probably best to bring it with you. (3) the old butt knob side of this trail had multiple points where the brush was chest high. It never felt like I lost the trail, but this definitely doesn't seem highly trafficked. (4) I saw one group of hikers all day, which was nice because I don't come to the woods for crowds.

Overall, better than a day at the office. I would hesitate to offer advice on campsites at the top of the loop or up Art Loeb because I don't know of water sources.

7 months ago

10 months ago

1 year ago

horseback riding
1 year ago

I am stingy with 5 stars. This is 5 stars without a doubt. I have seen it billed as all of the benefits of the AT in a weekend and while that is an exaggeration, I get the comparison.

I started at the boycott camp and walked South, which means you lose overall altitude. 4 miles or so up and then I tool the spur up to the top of cold mountain and slept there. It sounds better than it was. No views, but hey, they named a movie after it so I checked that box.

You then go South through the Shining Rock Wilderness and pass through an area called the narrows, which is just really tall weeds/plants and a little eerie. Then a really solid ridgline with some scrambling. Past some pines and eventually into the open where you hit Flower Gap and are treated to about 6-7 miles of awesome vistas with a lot of up and down over the peaks.

Past black balsam knob and you go down to cross the BRP. Then it is about 18- 20 more miles of peaks with vistas at most of the tops. Much more forested and the climbs get smaller as you get nearer the end. Finish through rhododendron tunnel and out into the campground area.

A couple pieces of advice:
1. Locate water sources before you go. there are not a lot of them so miss one and you will get thirsty
2. If you go late summer/fall be advised when you are in the open area the bees are nuts. Just suck it up and go because you will not avoid them. I did not get stung but the hum of the bees was like a plane
3. Look at a picture of the junction in shining rock. You can take a wrong turn very easily and walk for quite a way
4. I backpacked it and took 2 nights. Take you time and enjoy but...
5. Most of all, do this hike!

1 year ago

We hiked this mid July starting with Old Butt Knob Trail and back down Shining Creek Trail. The Old Butt Knob Trail head is about .5 mile on the right after you begin the hike. It is not marked and easy to miss. The first 1.5 miles is very steep and strenuous but footing is good. I recommend pacing yourself. After that the elevation gain is about 700 feet per mile. This is a beautiful hike and the short offshoot trails to the left are the best part of the trail because the mountain views are incredible. The last 1.5 miles are very tight quarters with the white rhododendrons and the blueberries. You really have to to pick your way through the bushes in several spots. Trail visibility is very tough in many areas. At the top of the trail you will see the junction to your left where the return begins. Don't take this trail yet. Shining Rock is actually straight ahead through very thick brush and blueberries. After you enjoy the reward, return to the trail junction and take the trail down that has white quartz rocks in the trail. This will take you to a small meadow and then part of the Art Loeb Trail. You will soon see the Shining Creek Trailhead sign on the left coming off the Art Loeb Trail. This trail descends quickly and then gets more gradual. It is very wet and rocky most of the entire trip back. You will slip and slide during this descent. Very opposite of the Old Butt Knob trail. The rewards, however, are worth it. There are many cascades along the way that are very beautiful. You will eventually end at the Big East Fork parking area. This is a very strenuous hike but the reward for doing it is worth it.

1 year ago

Great trail, recommend taking north/upper trail from trailhead. This is because of a difficult vertical climb (around 1,200 ft up over the first mile) that is horrible to come back down. Loved the trail, had a great many sites throughout.

1 year ago

Didn't make it to the summit. The trail needed some maintenance a few miles in. Otherwise a nice moderate hike!

1 year ago


2 years ago

Hiked the southern leg of this loop as an out and back. In October-November, the trail may have many slippery dry leaves. Watch your footing. We were advised that the leaves made the Big Butt Knob descent (if you go clockwise) "treacherous".
Many lovely rapids and falls along the southern leg. Falls had ice where water splashed. As the trail turned steeper in the zig-zag at the western end, some icy puddles.
No blazes. Lost the trail a couple times in both directions in the fallen leaves. If this happens to you, look for square cuts through fallen trees. It got us back on track.
We got a late start due to me being delayed by closed Blue Ridge Parkway, which I learned is frequent occurrence from November to March. We decided we were of time about 300 feet below the ridge at Shining Rock. and turned back. The parking lot is on the east side so were in shadow as we neared the lot. About 5 hours on the trail.

2 years ago

One of my all time favorite loops. This loop is best hiked up Shining Creek and back on Old Butt Knob however I was unaware and although I looked at the topo I had underestimated the steepness of the ascent up Old Butt Knob. I was also very new to backpacking and had a nearly 45lb pack on my back. The trail was so amazing that although it was tough the views from the rocky outcrops made it worth it. There were 4 or 5 good places to camp along Old Butt Knob either with hammocks or tents. Once the trail nears Shining Rock you will be greeted with blueberry bushes with the best berries. Be aware that there is very little if any water on Old Butt Knob.

Shining Creek is much less steep than OBK however the camping spots seem to be a little more rocky and much better suited for hammock camping. There is water all along this trail. Although the trail does not have the spectacular views of the valley that OBK offers it makes up for it with amazing water features. Winding creeks and springs offer plenty to look at not to mention the beauty of the shining rocks that seem to be everywhere.

This loop is definitely worth checking out.

2 years ago

Shining rock and Old Butt are both beautiful trails with Shining rock offering more hike in camping options and generally flatter topo. We hiked in about 1 mile and staged our camp on Shining Creek and then day hiked from there. Glad we did. Shining Rock trail definitely in need of some maintenance and scrambling through dense laurel patches and multitudes of downed trees and branches would've been a pain with a full pack. From the East fork trailhead, old Butt is largely uphill but much more accommodating for those marching with packs. Both trails offer awesome scenery. Heard about bear sightings but none found during our journey.

3 years ago

You will get a great workout hiking up old butt knob trail and be rewarded with a couple breath taking views from Ricky outcrops off the trail. Navigation is a lil iffy going from this trail to shining creek which is a rocky, slick descent (not my favorite) but is quite scenic along the creek...

4 years ago

hiked up old butt knob trail very steep tough climb, but beautiful views all the way up. hiked down shining creek trail, it was a little hard to find at first but awesome trail as well.