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backpacking
1 day ago

This was an amazing, crazy experience. The first 4 miles over Black Balsam and Tennet mountain were simply breathtaking. The rhododendron, laurel, Galax, gray's lilies were all in full bloom. The views were 360* and stunning. The second 5 miles were very challenging, steep, narrow, and completely enclosed with head-high blueberry bushes and other undergrowth. Camped at Deep Gap. There were almost no views, no trail markers in the labyrinth of trails and no water sources past Shining Rock. The only panoramic view was from the top of Cold Mountain. It was exciting and somewhat scary when heavy rain kept my AllTrails app from loading. Had to go back to old school map, compass, and dead reckoning. I will definitely do it again now that I know the challenges.... I would rate the second half of this trail from Black Balsam Parking area to Cold Mountain as very strenuous.

Does anyone have the coordinates for the spring after flower gap heading south to north? Should be before shining rock intersection.

Beautiful trail up and back follows the river.

Quick hike with the option to extend your out-and-back to Tennent Mountain (totally worth it!) Hike up to Black Balsam is pretty open but if you decide to continue to Tennent, you walk through very high vegetation in a washed out trail, makes for a fun change of scenery until it opens up again.

hiking
7 days ago

Highly recommend for anyone who has a hard time with inclines because this trail is super fun with great views and little-to-no elevation gain. It is a rocky trail at first but softens up about a mile in. Meets up with Art Loeb for amazing views of Shining Rock Wilderness. Trail then leads you into a covered forest, so you really get to experience a few sceneries for little effort. I looped around on the Art Loeb because I wanted to play on some incline, but really great trail.

hiking
7 days ago

Fun trail that follows the river but not marked so be aware of where you are and check maps frequently. Dog friendly.

I arrived with high expectations for this long anticipated hike and they were definitely met. The views while traveling along the lengthy exposed balds are unbelievable. I parked in the lot at the end of the road and walked back a little over half a mile to start on the Art Loeb Trail. It is only a few short minutes before you break out of the trees on the way up to the summit of Black Balsam Knob, the tallest in the immediate area at 6,214 feet. I think I enjoyed Tennent Mountain even more though, with its slightly more challenging climb and descent and, if possible, even more sweeping views (plus fewer people while I was there and a more remote feeling). I turned back after reaching the Ivestor Gap area. The return on the Ivestor Trail was easier with a much more level grade. Be sure to allow more time than usual for a hike of this moderate length so you can take in as much of the undulating scenery as possible!

love the green vegetation on the trail , backpack this weekend to the top spend the night and headed back . It was a tough climb But worth the views

Very pretty views. Lots of people and lots of dog poop. Good hike with kids, but the dog poop really takes some of the enjoyment away.

hiking
12 days ago

We hiked from the Black Balsam parking lane/area to Shining Rock. We had three dogs with us and they LOVED it. Tough hike, but totally do-able and worthwhile if you are in reasonably good shape. Art Loeb trail is fairly difficult to follow since there are no blazes to speak of; I did use the Alltrails map and tracker to make sure we stayed on the trail since nothing is really marked. Shining Rock is pretty sweet!

If you start on ivestor gap, I would recommend taking a right at the beginning to get up black balsam mtn. then descend from tennet mtn. At the intersection take a sharp left and you're back on ivestor to the parking lot.

backpacking
14 days ago

Shining rock creek gets a 5 star. Old butt trail sucked so hard. Tips: don't do old butt, there's some really nice off trail camping near the beginning of shining creek. Old butt has tons of cob webs too, so much I had to wear a bug net and I've only ever used that thing twice ever. It was too unbearable. Whatever you do, don't ascend old butt trail either, it's extremely steep. Like straight climbing steep. The paths are also not well kept either and theres like maybe two scenic views on the entire trail. As for shining rock creek, I loved it. So many springs, rapids, waterfalls, and basins where you can swim or dip your feet. It's extremely humid in there though. If you are adamant about doing the entire loop, at the intersection take a right when you leave shining rock creek, then go straight, then at a rock clearing with some tall trees go right up the hill and you'll find old butt trail. Don't follow signs for cold mountain. Again though, I highly recommend you just stay on shining creek trail, just omit old butt because it sucks. One of the worst trails I've ever been on and I hike and backpack every weekend.