Explore the most popular birding 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.

Beautiful hike, moderate difficulty, amazing ridge top views. There are latrines in the parking area, but you don’t want to use them. Combine with Art Loeb trail to make a nice 5 mile loop.

Don’t be fooled by the number of cars parked along the road at trailhead. Many people are just there to camp. Not exactly easy trail as many parts have rocks to scurry up or step through. Meadow at the top with a hum of bumblebees on the many wildflowers. Amazing views in every direction. We’ve done it twice this trip.

6 days ago

Good fishing. Rough trail not marked well but won’t get you lost.

Beautiful views. Lots of wildflowers. A nice, enjoyable outing.

Absolutely beautiful views. Great hike! Maybe, a little tricky for older folks with knee issues. Good shoes will make navigating the rocks easier. This hike should not be missed. Also, so many other places to see: Devil’s Courthouse, Skinny Dip Falls, Looking Glass Falls, Graveyard Fields. Make a day of it!

Beautiful views reward you after a pretty steep incline to the top of the summit. The trails at the top are not very well marked so have your AllTrails map out and ready. We accidentally took the art loeb trail back halfway before we realized we were headed the wrong direction. Still, despite incoming rain, we got gorgeous views and only a little bit wet. Will def come back here.

Outstanding views and rock formations.

This is a great, short distance hike with exceptional scenery of the surroundings mountains. I went on an overcast Thursday morning and was surprised at the number of cars in the parking area. I was afraid there was going to be a crowd at the top but I only encountered a few people. Despite the overcast conditions the sun poked through several times for great 360 degree views. This will be a great hike on a cool Fall day and I will definitely be going back.

Great trail with spectacular 360 views!

On June 8 hiked up with my daughter, sil to be, 7 year old granddaughter and a photographer to take pics of the kids on their wedding day. I’m not sure I’d say this was easy, lots of loose stones, steep switchbacks and narrow areas and being out of shape! However, I did it! The vista from the top was spectacular. The greenery, tall forest trees, dainty flowers and a distant stormy sky brewing (and the steepness at times) made this breathtaking. Do it, I’m glad I did. Some of the most beautiful NC pics I’ve ever taken were here.

Great hike with beautiful views. Our 2-year-old was able to handle it (with some help).

I’d been to Black Balsam Knob several times before taking this specific hike and you get many more great views. The trail itself is rocky with lots of shrubbery, but once you get to the high points, the sky goes on for miles. Be sure to pack bug spray and sunscreen, or at least a hat. The trail isn’t blatantly marked, so having a map of the trail (like the one included on this app) is super handy. Black Balsam and Tennent Mountain are each breathtaking. The views are amazing, they’re perfect spots to take a break, and it’s super rewarding once you complete the loop. I’d suggest going on a day when there hasn’t been a rainstorm the day before or isn’t currently raining because the trail gets slippery and the loop on the way back becomes more creek than trail (waterproof/resistant shoes are useful). Overall, I had a wonderful time hiking and exploring nature and definitely recommend it for future hikers!

Breathtaking views.

this hike exceeded all expectations!!!! veryy rewarding! stunning and endless veiws, you're going to want to allow a lot of extra time to enjoy them. heavily trafficked. also I read some reviews prior to my trip and one mentioned the bathroom being pretty filthy-- quite the understatement actually I was blown away and disturbed buy how disgusting they actually were. strong warning- Beware!!!

Did a sunset hike here the views were amazing! I highly recommend seeing a sunrise or sunset here.

Panoramic views atop this knob. Nice place to relax and take it all in at the peak of Black Balsam.

One of the most scenic spots in NC in my opinion. Pretty easy hike to the top of black balsam knob. Love this place for camping! Sunrises and sunsets with a 360 degree view, you can’t beat it!

Take this COUNTER-clockwise to minimize trail loss on the infuriatingly vague relentless Southern ascent, the crazy labyrinth of squirrel runs trying to find Shiny Rock, and the super slippy descent through Hobbit sized openings in the brush.

this one can be quite difficult depending on the path you choose. part of it is very narrow once you get up the first summit. beautiful views though. keep notice of where you are so you know when you turn back to loop back

2 months ago

Good trail not marked at all and a lot of side trails

Flat and rocky. Many other better alternatives nearby to the same locations, but can be relaxing. If it has rained within the week expect parts of the trail to be completely covered by puddles with plenty of dense mud

Really enjoyed this trail! Initial climb, but moderate with some places to stop and check the view. Once you reach the top gorgeous 360 degree views. You can continue on the Loeb trail if you like. Highly recommend.

Start to finish
One day hike. Is rough

Absolutely one of my favorite hikes. So many trails to go on in one area, and kid friendly. The views are amazing! I could stay here forever...

I attempted this trail once before but started too late and took the way to the right and realized i would not make t before dark. It’s not safe to do this in the dark as some areas require a bit of rock climbing. We did this hike again in the winter, one of the warmer days. It’s was a difficult hike but fun. I didn’t do a loop and came down the same way I came up. My nephew as cousin took the way to the right and did the loop. The trail is not well marked or always seen so got lost a few time. It was fun but probably will not do it again.

This trail gives you lots of freedom to see all the views and explore (in trenches!). It was busy, but not crazy busy by any means. Many cars were parked along the road but there are several trailheads at that starting point. Lots of dogs, too! Like everyone else said, great views. You can go far or not. I do think it should be rated as “moderate” though.

4 months ago

Did this as a 2 night backpacking trip. Well established trail but NOT marked. Tough, rocky terrain that can be slippery after rain but elevation gain isn’t bad. We had intended to continue on to Greasy Cove Trail and loop around Shining Creek Path back to the trailhead but we could not find the trail after 2 hours so we made an out and back of Big East Fork.

All in all a good first time trip for this novice backpacker. Campsites were nice and flat with easy access to the creek for water.

Just do it. You’ll see why.

We started and took shining Creek and had planned on coming back old butt. However the trail is NOT 3.4 miles, as it states on the map. It is more close to 6 miles one way so be prepared. It was getting dark on us so We came back out the same way We went in and do not get to do old butt. This trail was very pretty with lots of water Cascades. We tracked The trail to be around 12.5 round trip. The trail is NOT marked and is very confusing to what is and is not the trail. This trail even with a map would be super easy to get lost. we ran into other hikers and they were just as confused as we were and some had done the trail before. It would be nice if they could have some small makers at least on some of the places.

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