Explore Fall Colors - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Fall Colors Map

This trail was amazing great scenery of the water and the mountains, the waterfalls at the end is worth the hike. The walking bridges that you crossing overlooking the water is great. You want be disappointment at all. I had lunch at the top then walked back down the 4 miles. A total of 8 miles that I really enjoyed. the weather was great it rained a little but with all my sweat i didn’t even notice.

2 days ago

Fantastic trail, one of the best in the park!

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!

It is an amazing hike and worth he pain all the way up. Don’t be fooled, the map said 4 Miles so round trip 8. However, I clocked over 12
Miles. We went with my daughter 7 and she did great but was a struggle at parts. Gorgeous hike along the river for most of it with some fun bridges and river crossings. Go prepared with water and snacks!

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.

20 days ago

The reward at the top is worth the pain!

Beautiful trail but not for the faint of heart!

Absolutely beautiful!

1 month ago

Lovely hike in the beautiful lush forest, with a waterfall at the end. My first "long" hike. Being from Florida I practiced for a long time on the uphill treadmill, and it worked, because it wasn't too hard or too steep for me, and I enjoyed it so much I have sought out vacations with beautiful day hikes ever since.

Absolutely gorgeous hike. My wife and I enjoyed being by the river, and the tighter spaces of rugged terrain this trail offered. Without a doubt worth the hike to see the cascade. A favorite for sure!! This was about 10 miles stepping distance due to the terrain, and was hard but doable.

1 month ago

Definitely a challenge and so worth it. Went out early in the morning and we were the only ones on the trail. It was beautiful and amazing up and down. Highly recommend!

With all of the posted admonitions, I was expecting to barely make it down alive. It seems more like the contrast between Big Piney and Graybeard is at play. The trail itself wasn’t all too difficult...just different. It’s not well maintained or well marked; however, I took fewer wrong turns than I did on Graybeard since I was compelled to watch where I was going. I didn’t see anyone else on the trail until I got down to Little Piney, so that was a nice change compared to the high traffic of Graybeard. The loose rock near the end of the trail was a bit sketchy to navigate once I was fairly fatigued from 4 hours of hiking. Some rolling sections, interesting rock formations, and shady groves make this a worthwhile alternative to Graybeard’s out-and-back offering.

Although I had a full pack, and it was 90 degrees and really humid, this is a killer loop with a significant portion unmaintained and remote after Graybeard splits off at the top. Highly suggest novices stay away from the split and just stick to an out and back. Definitely not a moderate trail, definitely difficult. Also, take a look at the screen shot I uploaded with the circled intersection. Have no idea how but I went off trail onto Harmony Lane here where the road must intersect. If you are doing the full loop be VERY careful here, I’m an experienced hiker and even I got off trail !

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!

A tough hike for sure but a very beautiful waterfall reward at the end! I recommend having a hiking stick. I didn’t have one and wished I did the whole time I was descending. I will mention that at the falls there are tons of bees. They appear to be common honey bees and not aggressive but they were everywhere. I had intended to sit at the falls and enjoy a snack but I literally had bees crawling all over me. One was crawling down my boot even. None stung me but if you are freaked out by bees or super allergic then be advised.

Challenging climbs, makes you break a sweat. Only did an up and back, want to complete the loop next time.

2 months ago

Definitely a challenge, howbeit a rewarding challenge. My wife and I completed it with our six children (6-15 years old) in 5 hrs and 23 mins. The last mile is the most difficult, where you must climb a 26 degree slope over rocks and boulders. The entire trail is gorgeous, with one-rail foot bridges, a talkative brook and waterfalls, some of the oldest and biggest trees I’ve seen in the GSMNP, and an absolutely stunning destination. As I departed down the first rocks leaving the falls, I turned back to see the main water framed on all four sides by the the forest...it was a truly surreal moment for me, and I’ve included a pic of it from my cellphone with this post. A great place to relax and meditate on the beauty in your life!

2 months ago

Wow this is a challanging trail for a new hiker who may be ummm slightly out of shape! This was my 12 or 13 hike. It is a little over four miles in and then back out the same way. I have to say that I am a fan of loops more than out and backs personally. This trail is also up hill the entire way. The ENTIRE way. LOL. it may be easier as sent said for the first mile and a half but it is still a graded incline. And an increase in elevation!! Waterfall at the end is the pay off :). Saw three baby bear run along side me on my way back out :) Beautiful wooded scenary, moss covered rocks and fallen wood. Pretty much a green tunnel the entire way (covered by tree leaves!)

Awesome even in the rain!!!

2 months ago

My best friend Hoss and I went on this hike and it was great,raining a little but so green out and some of the biggest trees we have ever seen,just had a great time together!! It was easy and 8.6 miles,the waterfalls was beautifull!!!

2 months ago

Undoubtedly the most rugged trail I have ever trekked. Worth the while though!

2 months ago

Great hike following the creek most of the way. First mile and a half is pretty easy and takes you to a nice overlook of the water. The next 1+ mile gets a bit more rugged and elevation begins to increase. Several nice foot bridge crossings. The remainder of the trail will test you. A pretty steep climb and one slightly depressing section that seems to lead you away from the sound of rushing water. But the struggle is so worth it. Enjoy!

As a novice hiker, I chose this as my first hike. I am 40 yrs old and in slightly less than decent shape. with that being said, this hike is doable for those who are motivated. the first 2 miles go by fairly easy. the 3rd mile is a bit more challenging, and the 4th mile is grinding. but, as in many cases, the effort is worth the reward as the cascades are absolutely beautiful. please keep a close hand on the little ones once you reach the cascades, especially in wet or cold weather as rocks become slippery. otherwise, enjoy the fruits of your labor!

this is a difficult but doable hike for those in decent shape. the hike becomes more challenging as you progress. starts off easy for the first couple miles, moderate for the 3rd mile, then it gets more difficult. pace yourself and the effort is worth the reward. absolutely beautiful! I highly recommend starting this hike as early as possible on warmer days. you won't be disappointed if you reach the cascade. enjoy the fruits of your labor!

The waterfall at the end is worth seeing, so I’m glad I did the hike, but I often found myself a bit bored. Most of the trail doesn’t have much to see besides a little bit of the river. The last mile or so is also brutal, with endless climbing over rocks. Still, not a bad trail at least once.

This trail was a bit difficult, after you pass the gravel part. Glad I did it but I wouldn't do it again. Didn't have any views on the trai.

beautiful hike and the falls are amazing,did the whole thing in 5 hrs including the chill time at the falls

This hike was recommended to us by a staff member in the visitor center. He said it is his favorite hike in the whole park, and we could see why! Gorgeous scenery along the way, including wildflowers, the river, and old trees that are huge. And the view of Ramsey Cascades at the top of the hike is incredible! Well worth the strenuous trip up. However, be warned--LOTS of rocks and roots the entire hike once you get off the old logging road. So it's a workout on the way up, but you have to be especially careful on the way down. There are a lot of opportunities to trip or twist an ankle. We started the hike at 3pm and saw about 10 people on our way up, but on the way down we didn't see anyone.

3 months ago

Amazing hike. I’ve hiked it year round. Especially love the fall. Blueberry bushes abound.

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