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By far one of my favs. Easy trail, but still interesting. Great views at the top

I completed this trail as a day hike. It is extremely beautiful. The mileage and strenuous rating are accurate. The path is extremely rocky along the old stagecoach section, and there are boulder scrambles in both directions from the beginning of the loop. This is a really nice hike, but I would recommend less experienced hikers build up to this trail and allot plenty of time for completion. Big Creek Gulf and Rim trails are easier and may be a good test run before venturing this way.

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 place rocks. Fun to play / picnic by the creek at the main parking lot... or hike up in the hills. Super fun!

Trail is tough. Not super crowded. No views, but beautiful area. Summer growth is over taking trail in places.

This was such a fun trail with multiple beautiful overlooks at the top. Most people turn left onto the AT when they make it to the intersection and are met with a steep incline and tons of rocks, but if you curve to the right and continue onto Byron Reese, you will have a slow and much more doable incline. We did this and thought the trail was fairly easy because of it. Wear good shoes and socks! The trail is so rocky.

It was a good trail, but I would not recommend it for anyone’s first time backpacking or camping. It had rained the few days prior to me and my gf doing it and the creeks were so full and crossing them was pretty dangerous. But overall a great trip. Plan for it to take 2-2.5 full days to complete the trail if it has rained recently.

Excellent gravel trail/road along Indian Creek Trail with numerous bridge and stream crossings. We had to ford at one location towards the end because of all the rain the previous day. Then Sunkota Ridge was pleasant, with the occasional glimpse of mountains through the trees.

hiking
16 days ago

Great trail! Easily done with my three dogs, fantastic views and waterfalls.

I’ll give it middle of the road, if you like hiking or what to see what it’s like on parts of the AT this is a good place. There’s not any overlooks past the Bear trail and no waterfalls but for pure hiking this is still fun. Our family enjoyed it.

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.

We did the full loop, clockwise, in just under 5 hours. I’ll give it three stars because no matter what, it’s still in beautiful north Georgia. Downsides include lots of road noise, major overgrowth (at times I couldn’t see my feet and the growth was above my waist), pretty much zero scenic lookouts in the summer, and bears. There was one loose at the camp site when I started the hike and I’ve noticed a common theme in these reviews.

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.

The Blood Mountain portion was moderate and challenging. Great to see the lodge and the mountains all around. We came down Freeman’s loop - that part was brutal. So many rocks and roots to navigate, but we made it and will do it again. Be sure to bring more water than you think you’ll drink!

Great hike, great workout. If your going to do it as a two-day hike I recommend going counterclockwise and staying at sawmill campsite and rest up for the shorter yet more difficult last leg of the hike which is almost all uphill. The water was down quite a bit when we were there even though we got rained on for about 50% of the two day hike. There were a TON of crazy looking spiders that kept weaving webs across the trails too which was frustrating. I felt that I was constantly waiving a stick in front of me to try to avoid them. I definitely recommend trekking poles (two of them) for each hiker unless you're an extremely experienced hiker. I slipped and fell pretty hard once on a slick rock even with poles. The sawmill campsite truly feels like you're out in the middle of nowhere and you can forget about the port-a-potty at that campsite. FULL of spiders and nastiness. Otherwise very beautiful hike.

We tried to take Freeman trail but some guys said we were off trail so we turned around and took the AT trail. Lots of rocks to walk over and climb. Difficult trail but doable. It’s so worth the view at the top. I’ll be doing this again.

Did in November and was a challenge then counter clockwise and was even more challenging in the summer clockwise!

We did run into a few bear cubs, but nothing major and was safe hanging in a plastic bag unexpectedly spending the night on trail!

I love this track. It’s a great challenge and wonderful workout! I have been able to complete counter clockwise in one day, but clockwise always catches me a few miles short for a one day completion. I’ll get there!

My main reason for setting camp was the downpour and being out of water after the Duncan ridge split. Clockwise, it was straight up!

Heard the thunder threatening, and booked it to a camp site I’ve stayed beforehand re and knew water is close. Hunkered down for the rain in the hammock. Once it moved on, came out for a nice fire since we covered the firewood and a warm mountain house meal!

Tried to catch some rest, but after the storm and out location in hammocks, the breeze was a bit chill. May have slept 3 hours. Got up, warmed by a nice fire, mountain house meal for breakfast and come coffee. A few miles and we were off the trail.

We parked in an intersecting road and tapped the tail from there. Much recommend if you want the “free feeling.” Not as in not paying out park fees, but able to do what you like. We entered a great spot to start our trip.

Great track! Get out and hit it! It’s a great conditioning run!

Great trail! Lots of ups and down to keep your heart pumping and plenty of beautiful views to keep you interested along the way.

The AT portion is fairly open but Freeman portion somewhat overgrown. Lots of rocks and fallen trees to climb over on Freeman.

backpacking
27 days ago

Just finished an overnight on this loop. Last nights highlights:

-torrential rain, has a rain forest jungly feel
-trails are clear but lots of growth hanging over and slapping my bare legs, i recommend long pants unless you like thousands of plants slapping your ankles. i was astounded i had no poison ivy rash or any issues though so the plants on this trail are not mean
-i rounded a corner and surprised a black bear on the trail..fortunately he panicked first and sprinted down hill so fast he started tumbling
-lots of climbing and elevation(for georgia) 4200 ft. that means cooler air and a nice sleep if you camp above 3500
-not stunningly scenic but a great workout loop. you should be in decent shape or the climbing might get old
-personal pet peeve with this trail is hearing highway noise while in my tent. i like hearing owls, crickets, and running water when im in my tent. maybe it was where i camped.

Lot's of fun for an experienced hiker, made the mistake of taking my girlfriend on this trail as her first hike. Needless to say she was in over her head.

We just took a short hike to the water fall. The trail is rocky so have good hiking shoes and trek poles . Some place can be very slippery even when it has not rained in some time. Going in and coming back out has some changeling part of the trail but over all worth the hike down to see the falls.

The trail is well maintained, so expect to do this fairly quickly for a 21 miler (did it in about 8hours). It was cloudy and rainy, so that might have affected my experience, but I felt it was all that great. The best view points are at the begining, doing the whole loop is a bit excessive.

Hikes this aith mt wife last October. We loved it!

Great hike and views. Steady incline the whole way up.

backpacking
1 month ago

Until a proper maintenance crew decides to work on the trail past the first 5 miles from the trail head, one had better prepare for one heck of a disappointment.

To begin with, every trail in the area is blazed the same color. For some reason, the crew doesn't understand that a trail more than 12 miles "should" be blazed white while spurs and intersecting trails "should" be a different color. Also, there are blazes where is's painfully obvious there is a trail but at the "balds" (which aren't) and the gaps, where the briars are head high and the trail so faint it's difficult to navigate, there are no blazes. Nada. None. There are more "Bear Sanctuary" placards than trail blazes.

Water. Bring more than you think you'll need. Then bring twice that. The water sources are few and far between. Remember, you're at the top of a ridge. To get to any water it's hundreds (more than 200) meters to a POSSIBLE water source which is downhill (way down hill) from the trail. The "map" Alltrails offers doesn't mark any of them and the "reviews" posted below are less than helpful. Seriously... bring more water than you think you'll need.

I'm not going to bother with the issue of the elevation gain and loss... it's a ridge run... it's expected (and one of the main reasons I went this week). However... due to the remoteness of the trail; IF/WHEN there is a medical emergency, lost/overdue hiker, etc you will be stuck in place with no help for over 24 hours. Or more. My hiking partner and I are both search and rescue technicians and know our jobs well. I may know what I'm talking about here.

Other hazards include wild hogs (we had a passel of them "interact" with us out around Signal Knob), trail along the sides of hills that are overgrown and not well cut (one slip in the rain and there's a strong possibility of a serious fall or an ankle injury, massive fallen trees blocking the trail and did I mention the lack of proper blazes?

Really.... unless you are a serious back-country backpacker with extremely strong navigation skills, stay off this trail. Oh, and find a better map than the one here. The actual Rim Trail leaves/reaches the ridge west of Shortoff but keep in mind that all the elevation it took you 2 days to gain is lost in less than half a day.

I give this trail 5 stars not for it's beauty but for it's difficulty. Some of the other reviewers never ran this ridge, they stayed in the valley along the river.

backpacking
1 month ago

This was our first trail to backpack overnight. The scenery is beautiful. It is a pretty hard trail the first 2 miles and the last 2 miles. There are 4 campsites. The campsites just have a flat spot for your tent and a fire pit. The only complaint was that campsite one was not marked and was right on the trail. The trail is a little grown over at places with tall grass and poison oat so be sure to wear appropriate clothing and bring bug spray. This is black bear country so be smart. We will definitely be returning.

my partner and I hiked this trail last weekend, it was cooler and breezy which made the hike very nice. Spectacular overlooks, changing terrain, waterfalls, mountains. We had a great time. We passed about 8 people in the entire 8+ miles, I think half of them asked if we had seen any bears, apparently bears are prevalent at fort mountain SP. We did not see any bears by the way...this is an excellent hike, we would do it again. It took about 4.75 hours to complete, and we stopped for lunch on the trail and at one of the overlooks. We like to hike at a pretty moderate pace.

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