Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Shining Rock Wilderness Area with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

literally my favorite ever. there's absolutely nothing negative thoughts say about this one.

Start to finish
One day hike. Is rough

This is a great hike! The leaves aren't on the tress yet so you get some awesome views that won't be there in the Summer. Definitely a heart pumper and several rock gardens along the way. The views from the top are incredible and well worth the hike.

Kevin, email me caronj@gmail.com

This is more of an inquiry as myself and a few friends would like to plan this hike in June, but reading reviews causes some concern. We are in pretty good shape and have hiking experience, but don't wish to get lost for hours. Anyways, I think that we would be willing to hire someone who has made this trek and could guide us to the summit. If anyone can offer some insights and suggestion, I would be most appreciative.
I have a vacation home in Asheville and used to live there, and actually tested the hike for a half mile or so out of Canton, so have some insight. Looking at second weekend in June. Thanks, Kevin

I really enjoyed this loop. The forecast was calling for Armageddon, but it ended up only coming down the morning of our last night. It’s a tough hike with a good balance of gains and losses. If you camp at Shining Rock Gap there’s a spring on the left of the trail as you head south on Art Loeb. If you hike up Cold Mountain there’s a PVC pipe sticking out of the side of the mountain about 0.75 miles up. And I’m super stoked that I wasn’t murdered by a bear or blown off the mountain while I slept. If I did this trip again I’d probably plan on camping at Shining Rock Gap for the first night and Deep Gap for the second where campsites are established and water sources are close by. All in all it was a good trip. If you feel so inclined, you can read more about my trip at: http://bit.ly/coldmtnloop

12/15/17 it’s still heavy covered in snow. There were tracks in the snow up until the split, then it was guessing my way in the snow for the remaining 1.4 miles to the top. I’d recommend wearing gaiters or snowshoes. Much of the trail had 6-12”. +12” near the top made it a difficult hike. Tough hike in general. 3 hrs up and about 2 1/2 on the way down. Great hike, especially doing it in the snow!

If you like solitude this is the trail for you. The trail is very primitive and hard to follow at some points. There are no markings for the trail nor is there a sign for the trailhead. The trailhead is exactly where this app says it is, it just takes a little exploring on the other side of the stream. Tough hike but the views and solitude are well worth it.

Loved this hike! Did it yesterday 11/3 and the colors were beautiful. It took us about 7 hours to carefully navigate which included a 30 stay at the summit where the views were absolutely stunning. Not an easy hike but well worth the effort.

Loved it a fun loop to hike.

6 months ago

Great hike, but not for the beginner! Difficult hike, not marked well. Many obstacles to navigate (downed trees, streams, boulders, etc.). Give yourself at least 6 hours. Wonderful views at the summit. Several streams for water, and a spring near the top.

We didnt do the full trail. But great place to see some cute creeks, streams and swimming holes in the summer. Also great place to see leaves.

Just stumbled on this site and wanted to relate a story I've had online for some years about a dog who helped me home along this very strenuous, very rewarding trail. 15 years ago we didn't have Internet resources so I picked this particular weekend's adventure not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into. It was quite the adventure and definitely one for the books.

I love this hike! It's not easy at all. I just went yesterday 9/13/17 and if you go soon there are a lot of downed trees and debris from recent storms and the trail was very hard to read in some areas. I don't think this trail is well blazed compared to other trails and this is the first trail I ever got lost on but that didn't happen yesterday thank goodness! The view at the top is so worth the climb but this is not a trail for people who don't hike, who barely hike, or who are remotely out of shape. Oh and it's not 9.9 miles, it's 10.6. Like it matters that close but when the weather changes on you and you are cold, wet, and tired...even an extra tenth of a mile seems like a lifetime!

The nearly 4 mile trudge up the ALT from Daniel Boone is rocky....and spooky - very little sun penetrates its thick canopy up to Deep Gap. The CMT spurs to the left with a fairly vigorous 1.4 mile ascent. There are several nice camping spots on the dog leg eastward toward the summit. The top provides a dramatic southward view of the SRW and the route which continues ahead. Its a straight shot from the CMT back to the ALT returning through Deep Gap. The trail becomes brushy and soon ascends up to the rocky Narrows - a pretty demanding climb after the rigors of Cold Mountain. While this section is indeed a narrow path up and down the ridge, most of the viewing is obstructed, save for two cleared spots -one to the east and one to the west. Leaving the Narrows, the ALT continues to climb for another mile then widens and levels as it arrives at Shining Rock Gap. Here, take a convenient, but well deserved side jump onto the summit of the gap's namesake. Ivestor Gap Trail continues the loop southward. After a short 1/4 mile, the Little East Fork Trail branches off to the right, actually paralleling the IGT for a good while. Not a lot of traffic goes through the north end of this trail - pretty brushy, but easy to follow. It gently descends for 2.5 miles until it reaches the Little East Fork Creek. Once crossing it, the trail broadens as it follows the creek for another 2.5 miles back to the scout camp. This last section is far more popular - very reminiscent to both the Big Creek and Deep Creek trails in the Smokies. Water is easily available only on the ascent up to Deep Gap and the descent down to and along the Little East Fork. This loop served well as a long day's workout. Unlike some of the other routes I've done in the Shining Rock / Middle Prong wildernesses, all trails are pretty straight forward and each junctions is obvious.

If you want a 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is a great hike....and you don't have to go too far or work too hard to get it! We only walked about a mile and we had spectacular views. I do think if you wanted to go farther, you should have a compass and a map as this is a wilderness area and signage is minimal. But it is lovely!

I train here. It's a bit tricky up top because the trails diverge a lot, you need to climb shining rock. It's in the forest clearing right before hitting old butt trail. You can take flower gap trail and that'll lead straight to shining rock and cold mountain. Yeah, seldom you see bears and rattlesnakes but they're there during Summer. In the Summer, flower gap can be really overgrown.

9 months ago

Great trail. The forest isn't thick and the scenery is beautiful! I was amazed at how big the trees were when you get up in elevation. We got lost and the trip turned into a 16 mile trek, but we were having fun and I don't think many people go down one of the other trails by accident.
We created a new campsite along the trail to make up for the 4 mile gap between camping areas.
I hike a lot and have good stability, but I fell twice on the wet mossy rocks, sucked, but still a great hike!

Fun and very technical trail! Ran it on parts that were runnable and prayed not to fall on the parts that were technical. Lots of beautiful scenery and a lot of wildflowers and berries closer to the summit. Completed in about 5:05

Only hiked part of this trail but what we did hike was beautiful. Just as stated a nice moderate hike, the beginning of the trail is little heavier traffic than I'd prefer but tapers off once you hit Bolsam. Stunning views once you hit 1/4 mile in and beyond.

I only completed a short section of this amazing 30.1 mile trail last month, but what a section it is...up and over Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain to Ivestor Gap! The terrain and the views are spectacular, and the blooming rhododendron were gorgeous. I hope to come back soon to make it out to Shining Rock...maybe even Cold Mountain if I am up for a real challenge!

10 months ago

Pretty nice 180-degree scene once you finally reach the end. But if views are your goal, there are nicer views around this region for much less effort. This is a strenuous workout, especially with all the rocks and roots. Some people report completing the out-and-back in 5 hours, but that seems optimistic. Nice patches of flowers throughout. Limited water sources. Lots of bugs at the campsites where the trail to Cold Mtn. splits from Art Loeb.

Hiked this trail with my 13 year old daughter. Amazing and beautiful but very dificult. We hiked the entire trail from the northern point at the Boy Scout camp to the Davidson River Campground at the southern end.
The trail took us 3 &1/2 days to complete. Bear canisters were required which make the pack heavier. I highly reccommend this trail for experienced hikers. Water is scarce so carry water with you.

Just did this a couple weeks ago. Started at the boy scout lodge and took the Art Loeb up to the Cold Mountain Spur Trail. There are a lot of rocks, roots and loose gravel along the trail, so you need to pay attention, it's easy to roll an ankle. There are a couple water sources on the way up, but they look like they'll dry up easy in any kind of drought.
The climb up the spur trail is pretty rugged, with a couple false peaks to get your hopes up, but it's so worth the effort. We recorded it as 10.1 miles out and back, total trail time 5.25 hours plus 30 mins at the summit. Amazing views, and a challenging hike.

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.

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

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!

Difficult to navigate if you don't have a map. There are trails everywhere, and once you get past Tennent Mountain there aren't any blazes, so it's hard to tell what trail you're actually on. The views though were amazing.

Good trail, lots of rocks. Several opportunities for a dog to cool off along the way in the crossing creeks.
The view at the top is beautiful but definitely has to be earned first.

I just spent the night at Flower Gap last night. It was May 7th and it was cooold! The area I camped in was open so it was windy but the views were spectacular! I watched the sunset and sunrise over the mountains all around. No bear run-ins thank God. I think that they are out more in the summer when all of the blueberries are blooming. The Ivestor Gap trail was really wet. Recent rains and snow have a lot of the trail looking like a creekbed. I will take that on day two instead of up and down. All in all, a great overnight trip.

Load More