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We did Ivestor Gap up to Shining Rock and then came back down the Art Loeb trail and made camp on the grassy meadow at the base of Grassy Cove Top. Spectacular views, but can get crowded on weekends. Important things to note when backpacking in shining rock: 1) bear canisters are now REQUIRED when camping, 2) speaking of bears, there has been a lot of bear activity at the camp sites near Shining Creek so be aware, 3) the weather up there is very unpredictable - we had perfect weather through out Saturday but after we made camp and went to bed a storm rolled in and the wind nearly ripped our tents apart and we woke up in a cold cloud of mist!
All in all it was an amazing adventure, just be prepared if you plan to camp and bring a map because as many have mentioned the trails are poorly marked with lots of side trails.

We attempted this loop last winter. After reading how much work, and not a lot of payoff the Old butt knob portion was, we decided to take the Shining Creek Path up to the Art Loeb trail, and finish the loop back from there. First off, either way you cut it, that trail was absolutely NO JOKE. As a pretty seasoned hiker and recent Army vet with tons of rugged terrain and rucking under my belt, that first stretch to the Art Loeb absolutely destroyed us. We had every intention of taking 2 1/2 days and doing the full loop, after the 1st day of getting my butt handed to me from almost sun-up to sun-down, we decided to turn around and call the trip early and hiked back down and out the next day. Will not be attempting this one again without better conditioning.

backpacking
12 days ago

Wow is all I can say. The trail is amazing. The views are amazing. The signage is horrible. You can easily got lost EVEN with a map. We did 12 miles the first day from the Boy Scout camp. It was awesome with amazing views and it was work. The second day following the same blazes we ended up on the mst waaaaaay off course. So off course there was no way to backtrack and regroup we ended up taking to the road and hitchhiking. Luckily I found a couple at devils courthouse and offered them $50 to give me a ride to Davidson river trail head and they said yes. I would have paid $100 lol. Beware even with a map. We had 2. There are so many social trails and other trails that come off it and most are NOT marked.

An ok trail to hike especially if you are camping at Davidson River. Nothing really stood out.

It is a hard trail very rewarding.

I really enjoyed Art Loeb to Black Balsam and Tennett. Just past Tennett there is a grassy meadow valley. From there you follow Flower Gap to continue to Shining Rock. I would have been happy turning around at the cove.
The trail until then was open and airy. Great views. But it far into the Flower Gap portion it was cramped. The trail was narrow and the vegetation was dense. There were a few cool trees along the way.
I wasn’t super impressed with Shining Rock. It was a bunch of giant boulders. You can climb on them if that’s your thing but be careful to come back down the way you care. Surrounding the boulders are those curvy wavy trees/ bushes (not sure what they are called but they look like an enchanted forest) so it’s hard to get your bearings.
Ivestor back is much easier trail wise. A few great views but mostly just trudging back to your car.

I have done this three times, all going up to Old Butt and Dog Loser Knob and coming back down the creek. The ascent is very steep, do not attempt on very hot days or late in the day. I think the navigation is better in this direction but you have to pay attention on the ridge and in the area around Shining Rock. You need a GPS to attempt this hike. Last year we did this in May when the rhododendrons were out. Fabulous. This is a Wilderness area and there are no signs except one off the summit to mark the way down Shining Rock Creek. One of my favourites

A great 10 mile hike. Beautiful views from the balds and from Shining Rock. The Shining Rock Wilderness is aptly named. No blazes on any of the trails and parts of the Art Loeb Trail are difficult to find and follow.

The trail up to the top is Shining Rock is hidden and overgrown. It felt like we were the first to traverse the trail in months, so we were surprised to pass other hikers. Without the AllTrails Recording function we would have gotten lost for sure, but it kept us on the trail.

We ate our fill of wild blueberries and enjoyed the wildflowers. No bear sightings, but plenty of evidence of them along the trail.

The loop back to the parking area along the Little East Fork Trail and Ivestor Gap Trail was less scenic, but a wider, easier trail.

Overall, one of my favorite hikes of the season. It was quite crowded until we got a few miles away from the trailhead, but that was no doubt due to Labor Day weekend.

On 8/15/2018 at 1700hrs my wife and I saw an adult black bear on the Art Loeb Trail just below Shining Rock.

Someone had left a day pack on the ground there between the junction for the Cold Mountain trail and Shining Rock.

The bear WAS NOT scared away easily.

Also the blueberries and blackberries are now mature and we saw bear scat on the trail in multiple places.

Exercise caution between Grassy Cove Top and Shining Rock as the crowds fall off and it seems people are being reckless with their food.

Other than the bear this hike is great.

Also be careful to avoid the side trails around Shining Rock. It’s really easy to get lost up there!

This was one of several hikes I’ve taken during two consecutive summers of visiting these mountains and this trail is by far my favorite! The trail is relatively flat until the last 3/4 of a mile, but even the steepest parts were manageable. The whole trail offers beautiful views or surrounding peaks, with the best views coming from the top of shining rock itself. I’m an extreme novice hiker and not at all in great shape but I loved this hike and did not consider to be difficult.

Completed a backpacking trip on this trail in late July - trail was diverse, views were amazing, but the reviews that mention the lack of markings are definitely not lying. Downloaded the AllTrails map but would not recommend trying to tackle Shining Rock without a paper map of Pisgah. Footing tricky in places but overall a moderate trail that delivers in all the important ways.

Old Butt Knob? More like Old Ass Knob. Literally and figuratively. All the little whoas saying this trail was great literally need to go to the doctor because they are still delusional from the exhaustion this trail induced. This trail is actually utter ass and disappointment, with 2 miles of the most grueling ascent I’ve ever seen and no payoff for it what so ever. Just my opinion tho, this was day 3 of a 40 mile hike and was quite possibly the worst thing to come across after the exhaustion I was already under. Old Ass Knob, you will not be missed, This is a warning to anyone that has any sense at all, except the trail joggers, by all means trip and fall

2 months ago

There and back again! In an effort to answer the question that has plagued scientists for millennia (how is it possible that the art loeb is uphill all the way both ways?) I did this trail as an out and back. I do not have an answer to the question but I can confirm that it is, in fact, all up hill both ways. Seriously though, this is such a great trail and has a different feel depending on which way you take it. Whether you do it as two separate hikes or do it all at once, I highly recommend doing it both ways. I prefer the south to north route as you end with all the beautiful views and more isolated portions of the trail (cold mountain is well worth the detour) — a great reward after a tough hike. Regarding gear I can just say that this is one trail that is made easier with a lighter pack. Really consider what you need to bring and why? Is there anything you can leave behind? Could you get by with a lighter pack? A tarp instead of a tent? Lighter cooking gear? There are so many purveyors or ultralight gear these days — if you hike and camp a lot it is well worth the investment to transition your gear as you can over time. I did this 60 miles in 2 days with a 12 pound pack. Hiked from Davidson river to Daniel Boone and then back up to the base of cold mountain (34 miles) on day one and then back to Davidson River on day 2 (26 miles). Having done it in more time with a heavier pack I can tell you that the lighter pack makes all the difference in the world, particularly in some of the more technical sections of the hike. Do be aware of water sources as you go. Water becomes more limited as the summer get on and particularly between the shelters and shining rock water can be very limited. There is a reliable spring just past shining rock heading towards the narrows and it’s worth getting water there whichever direction you are heading in. There is beautiful camping all along the trail but also remember that if you are camping above the blue ridge, current regulations require a bear canister. You will likely see more signs of bear activity than actual bears but they are around. All of the bears I have seen in the area have been timid and turned tail as soon as they saw me. Just part of the deal. Whatever you do and however you do this hike, just enjoy it!

backpacking
2 months ago

Great hike but definitely a killer... started at the Boy Scout Camp and ended at Davidson. I read this was the easier way to go however, don’t let the word “easy” fool you, it’s still very challenging. There were a couple tricky spots because of the unmarked trails just pay attention to your compass and map to be sure you’re heading in the right direction. We did this hike in 2 and a half days, our thighs were burning at the end from all of the ups and downs. Fantastic views in the Balsam knob area, unfortunately it started storming for us so we had to get out of there. There are a couple fire pits up there in that area, highly recommend snagging one of those if possible. Absolutely no coverage whatsoever so only plan to stay there if you know it’s not going to storm!! Bummed we didn’t get that opportunity because the sky would have been wicked to look at from there. Overall great hike, definitely worth it!

Extremely fun! Very hard terrain. I accomplished this trail solo in less than 46 hours. Starting at the actual trail head and finishing at the Daniel Boone camp...awesome trail but is very very difficult and would not recommend to a beginner.

Wow! What a hike. Definitely take a good map and a compass. We took Old Butt trail to Shining Rock and then back down Shining Creek. We went in mid July and there was so much vegetation the trail was almost unrecognizable in places. Old Butt trail is no joke and this is no easy stroll.

fishing
3 months ago

Good fishing. Rough trail not marked well but won’t get you lost.

backpacking
3 months ago

Hiked end of June, 2018 with friends and two dogs. Having hiked a fair amount in Western North Carolina, there is no better hike that captures such a wide range of terrain. We hiked South to North, from Davidson River Campground to Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp and completed in 3 full days. Dropped a car the night before at Boy Scout Camp and stayed in Etowah at Etowah Valley Golf (dog friendly). Glad we decided to take 3 days. There are so many spots with amazing views (especially day 2) that you simply don’t want to rush past. Plan to spend at least an hour at Black Balsam. Get a map and check your GPS from time to time. We got on a side trail twice on the final day. The second time, at the Cold Mountain spur trail, be sure to keep left. The trail follows the ridge. Blazes (white) south to north are few and far between. I don’t remember seeing any in the shining rock wilderness area.

Great climb and well maintained!

This was one of the best hikes I’ve done in the Southeast!! I will definitely be going back in the fall and spring. The 360° views at the top of Tennent Mountain are unbeatable and you walk through a sea of wild blueberries and blackberries to get there (those will be ripe in the fall. Watch for bears!). I will say that for a pretty active hiker like myself, this trail was difficult not moderate. The trail through Shining Rock Wilderness gets pretty narrow and there’s bad footing everywhere. I would say the hike to Shining Rock is worth it, it’s pretty insane to see quartz boulders the size of houses! Next time I will wear long pants and bring more bug spray. Take care to bring lots of water and if you’re hiking alone make some noise every now and again since I saw bear scat!

hiking
3 months ago

Sean there is no clear water along the way you must filter water we use a sawyer filter, i just did it in 2 days back packing 35 pound pack, We did south to north and we moved fast. It rained a ton so that made water finding easy but it filled our boots and made the rock hard to walk on.. There was a ton of places for water. The hard place was 4 miles before crossing the blue ridge to Black Balsam and about 4 miles after that peak around shining rock. it was over 32 miles one way and can be very hard at times . The climb up to the blue ridge was hard and just keep going and going plan for 1.5 MPH at the hard point with a pack. Everyone said there were a ton of bears out. Plan for 3 days, if it does not rain keep an eye on water they can dry up fast . I would keep a min 32 oz at all times so fill up the 3L when you can. we ended up do around 38 miles due to a side trail we did.

4 months ago

I didn’t go yet. But I heard this is a awesome trail, so Interesting about it and planning to go.
First the all I want ask anyone know has clean water source along the trail?
Second I don’t want go by myself, just in case for safety, anyone else planning go to this trail, can we go together? Be a partner for each other?
Thanks!

Took old butt knob up the mountain, as most everyone stated, it isn’t easy. It is doable, but we had to stop a few times to catch our breath. Definitely pack more water than you think you need. Once you get past the first major climb the rest seems easy, relatively speaking. There are a couple nice views along the way up, and once you get to the top of the trail, be sure to explore some of the side trails for other great views. Trails are not marked, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble staying on them. Wouldn’t do this without gps or trail map. Took shining creek trail back down to complete the loop. Two entirely different trails that gave the best of both worlds. Shining creek trail was a very muddy and wet trail, not sure if it was because of all the recent rain or if it always like this. This was one of our favorite hikes.

Awesome even in the rain!!!

hiking
4 months ago

This is a hard hike! If anyone tell you any different then you should doubt them. We started at the Camp Daniel Boone (BSA) and headed south. I was careful to mark and photograph the true water sources for those that wish to use this data. We hiked 8 miles and spent the night. We finished the hike the next day at the Black Balsam parking lot. It was a good 12 miles total and several 6k peaks. Study a map and plan well. This is a tough hike with great rewards and physical challenges.

Take this COUNTER-clockwise to minimize trail loss on the infuriatingly vague relentless Southern ascent, the crazy labyrinth of squirrel runs trying to find Shiny Rock, and the super slippy descent through Hobbit sized openings in the brush.

Great trail as said before. The weather changes fast. We got caught in a bad hail storm. Despite that there are numerous of places to camp. I went counter clockwise and that was very challenging although it left some great views for the second day (black balsam, shining rock etc.). If you go counter clockwise and plan to go up old butt knob be sure to have at least 2:30 hours from East Fork and at least 2.5 L of water filled up from the river. It is a very steep section and the first campsite takes quite some hiking to get to. If not shining creek path is a much easier alternative. Old Butt Trail gets a little confusing near shining rock as well. We had to bushwhack through about a quarter mile to remain on the trail. If you are inexperienced and new to the shining rock area consider downloading and viewing this map in real-time, it helps a lot.

hiking
5 months ago

Good trail not marked at all and a lot of side trails

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail! Pack light and enjoy this hike. Each section has its own feel and challenges. Spurs to shining rock and cold mountain are well worth the time and effort. Evenings still cool so prepare accordingly if you are going soon. Once your at elevation the wind can be a factor at night so keep an eye on that as you plan your hike. Check my recording for campsites and springs/water sources.

Love this hike. Done it a couple times now. Has a great variation of landscapes and views. Be careful of storms moving in fast. Weathered my worst camp storm ever while here. Ran down Black Balsam knob just in time before the storm hit.

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