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.

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.

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.

I’m giving this one star bc I couldn’t find the trail... I set the GPS coordinates and not only was there no pull off, but surrounding pull offs didn’t seem to have any trails and no markings. However, the area has a lot of pull offs for accessing the creek below and there are a few falls in the area.

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.

Beautiful trail. The mossy rocks really make you feel like you're having a fantasy-novel adventure. The lower trail at least is not blazed or otherwise marked except at the trailhead, but it's well-maintained and cleared enough that sticking to it is easy. Other then the sound of cars passing, I saw no signs of civilization on my hike mid-morning on a Sunday in July.

These hikes are part of the Mountain to Sea trail and were well maintained-overgrowth has just been cut back apparently. Very little elevation but some slippery footing occasionally. Pretty wildflowers on both the upper and lower trails. Hiked these severL days and never saw another soul, although you can hear traffic noise from the Parkway. Dog friendly!

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!

Lovely, hidden trails extending more than a mile in both directions from a trailhead just off the overlook parking lot. Mossy, wide trails and a cloud-forest feel on the trail to the right; the trail to the left is drier and more overgrown. Both are fun, hidden gems — we never saw any other people on either!

Awesome even in the rain!!!

backpacking
6 months ago

Amazing.

backpacking
6 months ago

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

Love this trail! Hiked here 4/2/18, perfect weather, even got a small sunburn. the views and diversity of this trail is amazing.

A great trail with a mix of sights and terrain. We did Art Loeb to Shining Rock first, then Ivestor Gap back. Beautiful views mixed with quiet forests. We had a great time. I would recommend bringing your hiking poles, the footing can get tricky in parts, especially if your knees bother you like mine do. Also, bring a map! There are several unmarked junctions along Art Loeb.

I love the diversity that this trail has to offer! It starts with a nice uphill climb up Old Butt Knob, as you work your way towards shining rock. The quartz boulders cannot be understated – they are phenomenal and must be seen in person! I didn’t stay past dark, but I hear that they glow for about an hour after sunset. How amazing! The hike back down from shining rock, we walked along the river and there was waterfall after waterfall after waterfall… It was spectacular! Two moderately athletic hikers finished this loop in about five hours.

Excellent, scenic tour of Shining Rock Wilderness. As another person noted, the footing can get tricky, so having poles would be helpful.

Awesome hike, beautiful views

backpacking
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Unquestionably the most menacing hill I've done in the combined Shining Rock / Middle Prong wildernesses.

The trail begins unceremoniously just a few yards beyond the bridge coming from the Sunburst campground.

Once you manage to top the ridge, the trail frequently vanishes, but is recoverable by remaining on the ridge-line while favoring the left side.

I actually descended it coming up from the MST to loop back via the Fork Ridge. My toe nails were black for months afterward!

A brutal trail, but worth a tale!

This is a very beautiful hike. I did not do the full loop, but the best part is probably at the top of Tennent Mountain. Coming back at the Balsam it should have a spur trail back to the parking area. It is not marked and I missed it as many I talked to. It mush be the trail that go right before the rock outcropping. If somebody find it maybe a marker on the recording would be helpful.

There are several ups and downs along Art Loeb to Shining Rock, which is a pretty cool point of interest. Starting from end of Black Balsam Road, hike up trail to the right on the Art Loeb spur which takes you to open hills and a grassy area. The top of the first hill gives you the Sound of Music experience. Next is Black Balsam Knob, which is a higher hill. The trail is rocky and uneven with some trail erosion. From there you go down and then back up to the top of Tennent Mountain, past the intersection with Ivestor Gap Trail, then on to Grassy Cove Top and to another intersection with Ivestor Gap and Cold Mountain trails, then on to Shining Rock. The quartz is really white, giving it the shiny appearance. We took the Ivestors Trail back, which ended up being around 9 miles give or take. Nice hike, prepare for lots of sun as the underbrush on the knolls is short and also prepare for rocky uneven and overgrown areas. The views and Shining Rock provided great rewards for all the ups and downs totaling about 1300 ft.

I hiked a shorter version of the loop last month, making it out to the beginning of Shining Rock Wilderness and the area around Grassy Cove Top. The views, the terrain and the wildflowers were all spectacular. I hope I am lucky enough to return soon to complete the full loop to Shining Rock.

Does anyone have the coordinates of the spring on the AL near shining rock?

hiking
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hiked this trail over 2 years back. Absolutely loved it! However, use extreme caution, this trail isn't marked and the way up is steep at first. Also, because there aren't any blazes, I didn't know it was a loop trail, so I ended up hiking back the way I came.

We started on the ALT from Black Balsam Road. The views from BBK and Tennet Mtn were spectacular. Some of the best that I have seen outside of the Great Smoky Mtns. We camped at Flower Gap. The stars were amazing. Shining Rock was pretty neat. We came back on the Ivestor Gap Trail. It was much easier than the ALT (lots of standing water) but not as scenic. Would definitely recommend this hike to others.

Great weekend/ overnight trail to enjoy nice and slow. It would also be a great trail to take friends or kids who have never been backpacking before. We went up the investor Gap trail and back down the Art Loeb. Once you get into the Shining Rock Wilderness, it does get confusing as there are trails that are unmarked and do not appear on any maps. When you get to the big intersection with the shining rock wilderness sign, keep walking past that sign to stay on the Investor Gap trail. This can be an easy place to get on the wrong trail, as there are more trails branching off than appear on the map. All in all a awesome hike with incredible views from Shining Rock at the turnaround point, As well at the two other 6000+ peaks you get to stand on. The views all along the trail are awesome too. Great hike, good distance, not too difficult. There are plenty of places to camp along the Art Loeb. All the water sources are on the investor Gap trail or up around Shining Rock.

Take heed when it says "very experienced adventurers." We weren't aware that this pieced together a couple of trails, and we needed GPS to trail blaze to stay with this route. I'm glad we did it, but won't do it again!!! Haha!!

backpacking
Sunday, March 12, 2017

Great wilderness area with spectacular views and summits. Did an overnight near the parking lot next to Sam's Knob. Parked at the trailhead of Art Loeb on Black Balsam Road the following morning and began hiking in sub 20 temps. Solid elevation gains and views along the way. Come prepared and have a map available! The trails get very confusing once you get past the Shining Rock Wilderness sign. Went down a wrong trail in whiteout conditions and had a very long hike back up. Great place for winter backpacking as long as you come prepared. The forest service could improve this area with more trail markers along the Art Loeb Trail.

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