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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.

hiking
10 hours ago

I don’t know what kind of joke y’all are trying to play but this trial isn’t easy or moderate. This trail is one that you have to be an expert hiker in order to climb it. Not to mention the directions in order to get there are terrible...cause there are none. Best of luck to whoever attempts this trial.

We went on a Friday and the parking lot was full but most people stop at the lower falls. There was a lot of water on the trail so it was a little slippery at some points but the views were well worth it!

Great views at the top! Also very windy! Paved until close to the top, rocks could be a little slippery.

I love the view from this short hike. It is paved up most of the way. A little upward but go slow if you need to, not strenuous. I would suggest a clear day to see the wonderful views from here.

Enjoyed the hike! Was just right for my 1st hike. Beautiful view!

Path to Upper Falls not marked well but came across other hikers who missed it too and guided us in the right direction. Make sure to see both falls. Great hike and the dogs enjoyed it. Lots of water access for them!

I would rate this as moderate not easy as it is pretty steep with mud and uneven path. The view would have been great if it were not so cloudy.

camping
12 days ago

Well a couple having sex at top and angry Yellowjackets coming back down. What else can you say about a trail that makes someone’s heart pound in so many ways.

birding
12 days ago

Now this is a trail. Love it.

Awful trail. Very very rough, always rains, no camping views at cold mountain, trail is not kept up at all, would not recommend

The Art Loeb Trail is heavily eroded from all the foot traffic, but the views from Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain are outstanding. We took our kids and even though the sign post near the parking lot states that the Art Loeb Spur is rated difficultit's a difficult, they had a great time. Once you reach the Investor Gap Trail head back to the parking lot (about half way point) it's pretty flat and wide. Lots of little springs along the Ivestor Gap section.

Beautiful trail. Great views along the ridge line at the top. This is a moderate hike, so prepare to be a little challenged, even though it is short.

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.

Nice views. Lots of dogs and what dogs leave behind.

Well worth the short hike to the overlook. We stayed and just enjoyed the solitude and watched as the Falcons flew on the wind currents.we were actually there on August 31 but just now posting.

I fell in love with the blue ridge on the art loeb trail.

Really pretty and short - but definitely moderate (not easy) hike between the climb on the way back and the uneven surfaces. We were mostly alone mid afternoon on a Friday, but as we left we passed at least a bakers dozen of college students on their way in with (open on the trail) cheap beer, so perhaps less delightful late in the day on a Friday!

Amazing views all around

not easy. 1/2 mile but either up or down, no flat.

This is a great trail for hikers who like crossing through fields of wildflowers and high grasses. Watch out for snakes, of course, and don’t worry about the bees everywhere because they’ve got plenty to focus on other than you. The top of the hill provides nice views from flat rocks (again, snakes on warm days), so bring a camera and a snack for the summit.

hiking
1 month ago

The terrain here is beautiful, and the altitude changes nicely (but be careful about loose stones and slippery wetness). If you want to see how the different faces and altitudes of the region affect the trees and local insects (open grassy fields, hickory, berries, oak, various evergreens, bees among the rhododendrons and ragweed, flies on the bear and dog scat), this is a good trail for that purpose over just a few miles. Also, there are several crossing routes and side trails so that you can modify your hike to your needs, but remember to walk the extra mile or two to catch all of the falls.

hiking
1 month ago

Review of Lower Falls, Upper Falls, and Graveyard Fields Loop, hiked with one dog, two children ages 7 and 10 who are intermediate hikers. 

I grew up hiking this trail and today I passed the torch on to my boys (7 and 10). Graveyard fields is a well known and popular hike for locals and tourists alike. During the Summer time and weekends you can expect heavy foot traffic. Being a Tuesday we had the trail to ourselves for the most part. We started off by visiting lower falls just under 1/2 mile from the parking area down several flights of stairs. This area is a popular swimming area and where we saw the most people on our trip today. If you have very young children, older dogs, or anyone in your group with difficulty getting around this will be your go to spot. This spot offers several large boulders to take a breather on or sunbathe. A small waterfall you can rock hop your way up to. There are also a couple of small swimming holes for everyone to cool off in on warmer days. Be sure to rest up and keep in mind the stairs can be tedious on the way back out. If you are looking for a more adventurous hike then head back up the stairs and to the fork you passed on your way in. Keep right to start a 1 mile hike to upper falls. Note this trail is not well marked, and underbrush often takes over the path. You will be forced to hike single file, wade through mud, rock hop across several creeks, and navigate over tree roots, rock steps, and boulders. This trail is not recommended for young children, or pups that might struggle to get around well. Several of the areas are slick from the cooler wet environment and can be challenging to navigate in areas. As you hike you will come to another main fork go left to take graveyard fields loop or veer right to continue on to upper falls. This is where the trail can become challenging, as you make your way to Upper Falls. Once you arrive at upper falls you can choose to stay where the trail meets the water or continue to hike on up either the boulders or along a small trail that will take you parallel to the water and to the top of the waterfall. There are several areas among the rocks where you can wade through the water and admire the waterfall. Be careful though as these rocks are often very slick and can be tricky to navigate. There are several trees that offer the opportunity to hang up a hammock for a nap after a nice picnic. Once you're ready to head out, back trackthe same you came in. You will once again find yourself at the fork for graveyard fields loop which will bring you out at the lower end of the parking lot or you can follow the same route you hiked in on. This hike is a great way to spend the day relaxing with friends and family with beautiful flowers, ample views of water it will feel like your own little paradise. Come prepared to get your feet wet and muddy and bring towels for your four legged family members. 

so I have to give my daughter a shout out she is only 5years old and she hiked from Daniel Boone boys scout camp to the summit of Cold Mountain and back in one day. We hiked it as a family I carried our 2year old in a pack on my back and the wife carried all our food and water. We started at 9:15am and made it back to the truck at 7:25pm. it was tough and we had to take plenty of breaks but I don't know how many other 5year olds can say they have done it. Next time I believe we will camp though.

Great hike. Got started at PL at 0900 and up we went! Still wet from thick fog. Took our time and made it to top in 30 minutes. Too foggy to see much but still a great short hike. A definite recommend. Watch rocks they are slippery. Paved all but last few hundred feet.

Great Short Hike! It was uphill most of the way, but the view was worth it!

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.

1 month ago

Fun little trail, very rocky as to be expected. Nice and scenic swimming area at the end. Fun but very, very crowded.

Beautiful!!! Would rate as moderate to get to top but well worth the trek!!! Beautiful panoramic views at the top!!

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