Explore Kevin 9/26/18 - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Kevin 9/26/18 Map

Amazing and tough.

good hike or backpack to the top and camp overnight like we did. better be in good shape to hike this one, nice vertical ascends, some narrow areas plus a few wet areas. take emergency supplies with you if your just hiking, plenty of water, maybe some light first aid. there was only one problem we didn't have enough time to hike more. this is absolutely beautiful you have to see it for yourself. get out and enjoy our state and national parks. we are headed to Colorado next then back to the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains.

9 days ago

An amazing, brutal, rewarding 3 day trek. Me and 5 other dudes did this as our first real backpacking trip, heck, might as well do one of the hardest local trips to set the bar high. We started at Wolf pit, starting up the switchbacks then to the top where the evidence of last years forest fire was seen. We made it to Table rock and camped that night. Didn’t pass any good sources of water the first day, make sure you have enough to last until you start the next day. Leaving table rock, continuing north, we went came to a beautiful river crossing, had to rock hop.. 3/5 guys made the crossing without getting wet, the other two ended up waist deep in the river.
We did the long stretch along the river, got dark and rainy but had to keep going.
The last day was pretty good. Had to cross the river after hiking all morning. It was about knee deep but about 100ish yard across in someplaces. Honestly, I didn’t even use a physical map, I used this app the whole time. Probably wasn’t the smartest thing but it was basically 100% accurate the whole time.

YOU DONT HAVE TO CATCH THE SHUTTLE! We felt that was the only option till we saw a review stating that there was an enterprise less than 2 miles from the trailhead.
You'll have to hike south to north but it was worth the money we saved. For 2 of us and the dog they wanted to charge for 3 people, $150. We spent $40 on the car rental! AND the enterprise employee gave me a ride to the trailhead. Saved $110 and we really enjoyed the drive through the forest, it was beautiful!

16 days ago

we did out out and back overnight hike from camp daniel boone to the parking lot at black balsam knob, we also did the shining rock summit hike the first day. this took about 7.5 hours. we camped near the parking lot. the next morning we took the investor gap trail to little east fork trail to art loeb back to camp daniel boone. this took us 5.5 hours.

there was no shortage of water, a good bit of the trail actually felt like we were in a stream. it was extremely windy and temps were in the low 40's during the day.

i had read on several posts that you shouldnt do this trail without a map and or gps. i agree wholeheartedly we got off the trail within the first 30+ mins and many other times were unsure exactly if we were even on the trail or which trail we should take. i used the alltrails app with the map downloaded and the phone in airplane mode. worked perfectly.

additionally i read that the trail was "difficult" without much of an explanation why. imo what makes this trail difficult is: the lack of maintenance on the trail, downed logs all over the trail, lack of markings with numerous trails intersecting the main trail make it difficult to follow, massive erosion and mild rock scrambling. this isnt a trail you can just click off the miles. it is difficult.

Hiked this yesterday (December 19)! would recommend going at a different time than my group did if you have inexperienced members! One of my friends nearly took a plunge of some icy rocks. Snow also made it difficult to see crevices between rocks you could easily break your ankle in!! My group hiked up profile trail to Calloway peak, then took grandfather trail to the parking lot and hitchhiked back to the car. The views and adventure were absolutely stunning, but the trek is certainly not for the out of shape or faint of heart! One of the best trails I’ve hiked!

Easy as pie make sure you bring food and water or you will go hungry and thirsty.

This trail is top notch. A trail runner's dream.

1 month ago

Completed the loop with a buddy and our boys 13 & 15. Epic adventure, this place is the real deal. We started at wolf pit Friday afternoon and made the first river crossing up to the shadow of Short off mountain the first night and set up camp. Got up and made it to Conley cove for the second night. Up and made the crossing at Spence bridge first thing in the morning, this required some doubled up 550 cord and a pulley for our gear and a swim for us. This was at the end of November so it was cold but not undo able. Dried off and made the epic climb to table rock for lunch then over to the chimneys for camp the third night. Had to pack water to this campsite from just under table top. (Water is marked there on most maps) this was the most unbelievable part of this hike. Everywhere you look is absolutely beautiful. Got up and made it to the top of short off mountain for lunch then to the car back at wolf pit by 2:00. If you plan to do this loop, make sure you are prepared and make good decisions and do not take short cuts. We made it without issues but did many hours of preplanning. I will return to do this again, it was amazing and worth the drive and challenging terrain.

Was apprehensive but the most fun and rewRding trail. Beautiful views. Very technical. Must be comfortable with heights and climbing ladders

1 month ago

Backpacked with 2 buddies October 2018. Camped on what I think was black balsam knob. Beautiful scenery. Most of what we read said there was no water which is true once you get above the forest but there are many options for about the first 4-5 miles of the trail through the woods. You might consider not carrying the extra weight until you have to. All in all a great hike. Will go again sometime.

1 month ago

Started the Art Loeb Trail at Davidson River on 11/23/3018 and ended at Daniel Boone on 11/25/2018.

My friend and I completed the trail in 3 days.
- Day 1 (12 miles): The entire 12 miles was in the forest with NO views - at least no views were worth the exhaustion. We passed many great campsites along the way, but we ended up having to camp near a road, because the sun was about to set by the time we reached 12 miles.
- Day 2 (8 miles): The second day consisted of 8 miles of torture with the first lookout view of the trip. We trekked through a variety of terrain and ended at Black Balsam. For about 90% of the day, I questioned why I agreed to go on the backpack. There are periods where you just keep going up, and you think that you can't go any higher, but you make a turn and go up some more.
- Day 3 (11 miles): The third day consisted of a moderate 11 miles. This was the best day - beautiful scenery and relatively easy hike (compared to the first 20 miles). We hiked a variety of terrain, and I enjoyed the majority of the last day. There's about 1 mile of steep, rocky uphill, but other than that the trail is easy/moderate. Watch out for the last 4 miles of downhill - it's "easy" because it's downhill, but it really messes with your knees.

General Tips:
- If you don't care about finishing the entire trail and just want some good views, I would recommend skipping the entire first 20 miles of the Davidson to Daniel Boone route. Instead, make it a 2-day out-and-back backpack by parking at Daniel Boone and hike around 11 miles toward Davidson until you reach the final bald, then turn back. If you want a relaxed 3-day backpack, add in a stop near Cold Mountain the first or second night.
- Have GPS or a map/compass. It gets confusing in the Shining Rock Wilderness.
- Bring trekking poles - especially in fall when there's a probability of ice on the trail. I would have busted my head open and injured myself severely if I hadn't brought my trekking poles.
- Water was abundant between Cold Mountain and Daniel Boone. Other parts of the trail, we had a decent number of water sources due to recent rain, but I could see many of them drying up. Jump on any water source you can and carry enough water to drink/cook for the day.
- It was EXTREMELY windy on Black Balsam the evening we arrived (but no wind the next morning). If it's windy, set up camp before you reach the top, walk down the side-trails from the bald and find a site that blocks more of the wind, or go an extra 1-2 miles to find another campsite.
- Cover up for the Shining Rock Wilderness portion. The trail was pretty overgrown, and I would be extremely concerned about ticks in the warmer months.
Mileage Specific Tips: If you plan to follow my itinerary, the following tips may be useful
- The nearest campsites to mile 12 were around mile 10-11 and 13-14
- The nearest reliable water source to mile 12 was at the shelter at mile 9. Have fun carrying up the water.

This trail is so much fun. We didn't investigate it before taking it on with our 4 kids. Probably would not have taken them on this until they were older. Dangerous for younger kids. I definitely recommend it for older kids and active adults. Exhilarating.

2 months ago

Great trail Black Balsam was beautiful this weekend! The plaque for the trail was missing though

Absolutely amazing. Some parts are hard especially if caught in the rain. But well worth the view.

scenic driving
2 months ago

My favorite trail in the mountains!

2 months ago

I've hiked this trail twice now and it's probably my favorite on the east coast. It's definitely not for the inexperienced or out of shape, but the grueling path is more than worth it. The MacRae Peak path features stunning view after stunning view. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to take them all in and enjoy the fantastic vistas in all directions. The ladder climbs and rock scrambles can be nerve-racking but are a lot of fun at the same time. I took the Underwood Trail on the way back down which is a bit less strenuous and having gravity on your side makes the going a bit easier. It's easy to see pictures and hear from others about the sights along the way, but one thing you have to experience firsthand is the smells on the trail. You're hiking in a mostly alpine environment and the conifers give a refreshing piney scent for almost the whole way; it's like walking through a christmas tree farm.

2 months ago

Leaving my first review of many....
Second trip back to the gorge for 3 Chicago guys and one mastiff. The first time we set out to do the loop and we were humbled by the gorge very fast and learned a lot from our mistakes. We immediately planned for our return and that’s what I’m going to tell you about right now.
Second trip - Leave Chicago 10/6 - 7am arrive Wolfpit road 10/6 - 8pm. We camped next to car for the night and headed out as early as we possibly could the next day. We started heading west towards the river with our plan to do the entire loop clock wise and end back at our car at wolf pit on Sunday morning. Our first campsite was supposed to be up near cathedral falls right before Spence bridge. We thought we could do 8-10 miles our first day and get near Spence bridge, leaving the rest of the loop for thur-Saturday, but it didn’t happen. We were each carrying 80lbs packs with steaks and booze, 3
Guys and one 150lbs mastiff carrying a 20lbs backpack, we like to eat good. Our pace was much slower than expected. The gorge is no joke, when they say every mile feels like 2 in the gorge they are 100% correct. Heading north along the river is insane with a lot of weight on your back, crazy boulders and trees to hop over every 50 feet. There is literally no flat terrain on this side. You’re going up or down the entire time. We literally aimed for 10 miles our first day and hiked 4. We made it past the first river crossing which was very deep, chest high, built a fire dried off and set up camp at the next campsite. This took all day. Thursday we left camp a bit late. Everybody was exhausted from long drive and the river crossing yesterday. Again we didn’t get as far as we thought we would. The river trail has some
nasty, nasty terrain. We are fit individuals in the gym 6 days a week, and this was a struggle let me tell you. Our packs might have been a bit too heavy but we asked for this. We made it about another 4 miles and set up camp once again near Conley cove. Weather was great the entire trip, but this night it rained, and the rain prevented us from leaving camp the next day (Friday) until about 3pm. Another late start. We got up to spence bridge by night fall and scoped it out, it didn’t look promising, the bridge looked bad ass when it was usable, but it is completely destroyed now. We camped by cathedral falls Friday night, with plans to cross the river first thing in the morning. We found the worst campsite ever. No room for a tent so we all slept under a tarp and got no sleep. We woke up packed up and headed to the river crossing. When we got there it was a problem and we ran into about 8 other people in the same boat on both sides. You have an option to rock jump, which is very, very dangerous. We saw a couple people succeed but not without being saved by their friends, we literally watched people risk their lives to get across. The water level was nasty. This place is absolutely no joke. We helped construct a zip line to send the backpacks across east to west, for 6 hikers, and then we sent a dog across the zip line....We threw our backpacks rock to rock, west to east. Then we swam across. I had to drag my dog by his neck because he was so exhausted and confused. He was dragging me down and It took me three tries to get him across, I was in the freezing water for dam near 10 minutes and I came close to death. Set up a fire, dried off, and didn’t have much energy left in the tank that night. We set up
camp Saturday night 3 miles from table rock with only Sunday left to get back to the car. One day left to hike 12 miles, about as much as we have done in the past 4 days....it was not promising. We acquired a solo hiker Saturday at the crossing who stuck with us Saturday night. His car was parked at table rock and he offered to give us a ride back to wolf pit if we wanted to take the easy way out. Sunday morning we got up and started hiking. We were going to make the decision when we got to his car. We really pushed hard all day, we got to his car about 2pm. We all had very heavy packs and are extremely exhausted at this point. We
made the decision not to get in his car and keep on going and we are glad we did. We figured our trip would be extended one more night because we just didn’t think we could make it all the way to wolf pit. We were out of food and now with limited water stops hiking along the east side south, we were a bit nervous. A couple very generous people in the parking lot gave us an MRE. We said we would hike as far as possible with the sunlight we have left, camp up and finish the rest Monday morning and hit the road....we pushed as hard as possible and started searching for water. Water is limited near the chimneys, and on the east side. There are a couple of hard to reach spots on the map we tried to look for but didn’t need to. Along came another solo hiker who really boosted our confidence. He said he was parked at wolf pit also and he was going back to his car tonight. Afte

An exciting hike! We went in November and the path was so icy we almost turned around a few times. The views were worth it! We took grandfather trail up and Underwood back down, made for a great loop!

I hiked from the trail head to shinning creek path, camped and then came back. This was an extremely strenuous trail but the views were incredible.

absolutely beautiful trail. overnight tent camping at the top. make sure you wear good hiking shoes or boots the trail can get slippery. HIKE THIS TRAIL you won't regret it.

Hands down the most fun trail I have ever hiked! Extremely strenuous, so be careful. My only problem is I hate that you have to pay so much to get to the main trailhead. You can access it from the parkway, but it becomes a pretty long day hike.

Lots of fun. Very well marked and the ladders are a blast. The view from the top of McRae is fabulous. We went up the Grandfather trail and back down Underwood. Underwood is much more in the woods and bit more rocky/rooty. You get much better vistas from Grandfather trail, though it was fun doing both of them. The trail past McRae peak is a less travelled, as many seem to turn around at McCrae.

This is my favorite trail. It is a bit treacherous, especially for an old guy like me. I don’t go on it after heavy rain as it is slippery and mistakes could be costly. But it is beautiful and dramatic and fun.

Fun, beautiful and moderately challenging trail. Highly suggest this one! Add a little length and go to Calloway Peak! One of my favorites.

Amazing hike! Best yet in north Carolina. Lots of ladders and hard uphills. I’m not sure going all the way to callaway peak was worth it if your in it for the views, the first peak was beautiful and stayed beautiful to the callaway peak but didn’t change. About 4-4.5 hours out and back. 40$ to get into the park for 2 people.

3 months ago

Wow! What a freaking smoker! Very difficult terrain but worth the views! We went North to South which looks to be much easier that going South to North. A lot of fantastic views once you get to the balds. The balds will be crowded also since there is a parking lot at the base. Definitely have to check this one off your list. And yes, when it says it is one of the more difficult trails, they are not exaggerating!

great hike for me and a 12 and 10 year old. hit the chimneys and down to the river.

We went on a Saturday in early Oct. and got to the park right as it opened at 8am. Parked in the lot just below the very top lot and hiked the short hike up to the swinging bridge. Then walked across the top lot to the start of the grandfather mt trail. We started the hike at 9am, made it to Calloway peak by 11:30, spent 20min at the top for lunch and then got back to our parking lot via black rock trail by 1:45pm. Round trip was about 5hrs and that is with us stopping for views and really taking our sweet time. We hiked about 5.5miles. My advice. Keep right on the underwood trail? On the way up to do the cables and ladders (which weren’t as scary as I was expecting) and then keep right at the same split on the way back for the easier descent. Calloway peak actually wasn’t as impressive as macrae peak was, so if you wanted a shorter trip just go to macrae. But all in all the $20 was worth it and this is one of the best and most fun hikes I have done. 5stars! If I can do it anyone can, just take your time on ascents and descents, but honestly they weren’t too bad. Oh, and start early!

Truly the best trail I’ve hiked in the entire Blue Ridge area. The hike did take a lot longer, because of all the heavy traffic, but it thinned out the higher we hiked. The trails had more views than I would have thought possible(due to all of the edges of the cliffs that the path etched through).

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