Explore the most popular nature trips 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.

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

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...

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.

2 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.

The views speak for themselves. Absolutely loved the scenery I highly recommend for anyone. If you drive past Graveyard Fields parking area, you can drive up the road and a side road to the right (if you are passing graveyard fields on the right) will take you to an area where you can park and take the easy way up.

One of my favorite trails. You will have breathtaking scenery around you every second of the hike.

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

This is an awesome hike. My only complaint is they need a sign at the intersection (where the hike up to Tennent is on your left and the hike back to Balsaam through the bushes is on your right).

Great, quick trail. Needs a sign at the intersection on the other side of the knob (heading towards Tennent mountain).

5 months ago

Awesome trail, flat and level, it's a beautiful area.

Loved it a fun loop to hike.

6 months ago

Loved the hike—not sure if we stayed on Big East Fork Trail the whole time, as there are really 0 indications of what trail is what and several split-offs you could venture down. We opted for what appears to be the most traveled path, climbing (gets pretty steep in some parts) alongside a beautiful creek until we reached a dead end with a sign (about 4 miles from trailhead). Then, we took a left and walked about 0.2 miles to a beautiful meadow with two huge panoramic views. It was difficult, I’d even say “hard” in terms of this ranking system. The path we took was about 9.5miles, in total there and back.

This is sort of long so here's the run down. I am a 30 year old guy and like to backpack/camp or hike for the relatively quiet and peaceful experience away from the city (Charlotte) and all that. This trail was absolutely slammed with people. I have never seen anything like it. Used to love this trail. Would not recommend now....

Art Loeb starting at Black Balsam and venturing in to Shining Rock used to be my favorite hike in NC. I hadn't been back here in about 2 years until this past weekend. Black Balsam Knob Rd. used to be sparsely populated with cars and the trail was generally a pleasantly quiet experience.

That said, this past weekend, I have never seen so many people at a trailhead. I am from Charlotte so I will relate it to Crowders. It was like the Crowders parking lot on steroids. We arrived at about 9 a.m. on Saturday to hike up Art Loeb over Black Balsam and then take Ivestor Gap back to Black Balsam Knob Rd as a sort quick loop. First, there was hardly a place to park. Once we actually got on the trail we essentially hiked in a single-file line (behind some guy with a portable speaker blasting music from his backpack) and topped Black Balsam Knob to find a crowd of SnapChat/Instagram girls taking group selfies and the like. People drop their dog poop bags on the side of the trail. Tons of people venturing off trail in to vegetation and such for that "perfect photo."

Once we hit Ivestor everything chilled out a bit until we got back to the road where it looked like the parking lot exploded with people and cars. There were so many people walking around seemingly lost, dogs running around off leash (we have a dog and brought her and luckily she is very friendly with other animals), cars frantically trying to find a parking spot, etc. We parked maybe .25 miles down the road and I was stopped maybe 7 times in about 5 minutes to ask what I thought the people should do or where they should go and what to look for.

The trail is beautiful and if you can experience it during the week or something when it would be a lot less packed I would highly recommend it. Also, maybe I am just being a jerk. If you don't mind the noise and like that sort of trail mentality then go for it.

I just prefer being out in nature to get away from the noise and distractions of people and to enjoy (seemingly; thanks Leave No Trace) undisturbed places. If you are like me, I would suggest you try somewhere else.

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.

This trail was my favorite in the Blue Ridge. You can keep going for a day if you really wanted to. You hike from peak to peak over looking graveyard fields. Great hike to see mountains and the leaves.

Great hike with a great payoff on top of Tennant Mountain. The views offer shining rock to the west, looking glass to the east and everything in between. Great day hike. Highly suggested. If you want to change the perspective up a little take the Art Lobe out to Tennant Mountain and the graveyard ridge trail to the mountain to sea trail back to the trail head. Some waterfalls and views of the graveyard flats on this route. There is a little more elevation gain on this route on the way back to the trail head.

Holy Smokey Mountains! I know balds are usually known for their amazing 360 degree views, but this place was stunning in the dense fog. I bet I wouldn't even recognize it if I went back on a clear day. It made for fantastic pictures and a crisp hike. Loved seeing everyone and their puppies just grinning ear to ear. Don't pass this one up!

Easy trail with panoramic views!

7 months ago

Hiked this trail on Sunday along with 16 septillion other people! That said, we went back today and enjoyed a significantly less crowded hike. The weather was comfortable and the constant breeze atop the bald refreshing.
Parking was at a premium Sunday, but plentiful Monday (we arrived around noon both days).
Recommend this hike to anyone interested in majestic 360° views, hiking with little to no gear or packing in and staying the night.

Awesome trail. Great Views. Some water on the start of the trail. Well worth the hike to the summit.

Start at the Art Loeb trailhead about half way down Black Balsam Road from the Parkway and ascend to a grassy knoll and up to Black Balsam Knob with sweeping 360 degree views from the top - the Shining Rock Wilderness does not disappoint. Great bang for the buck and this popular hike can get crowded.

Starting from end of Black Balsam Road, Ivestor Gap trail is the flat trail to the right of the rest rooms that looks like a fire road. It can get water logged after a good rain. The trail is pretty flat until you get to the intersection with the Art Loeb Trail. Take a right uphill to Tennent Mountain through small trees and blueberry bushes. The trail is rocky and becomes a stream bed during heavy rains so watch your step going up. On the roof at Tennent Mountain, the world opens up with awesome 360 degree views of the Shining Rock Wilderness - quite a spectacle with all the hills, small mountains and far reaching views. From there you descend along the ridge line and then back up to Black Balsam Knob and then down again to the grassy knoll that intersects with the Art Loeb Spur trail which will take you back to the parking lot at the end of Black Balsam Road. Or you can proceed down the Art Loeb trail to the other parking area, but will have to walk down the road to your vehicle. Great loop and very popular on weekends and holidays.

8 months ago

Ivestor Gap trail parallels the Art Loeb Trail, taking you through a nice quiet walk through the woods. While Art Loeb goes over the knolls, Ivestor Gap takes the low flat route from Shining Rock. Some nice stands of hemlocks. Trail can be muddy after a rain, so waterproof hiking boots are a must; also the trail is rocky in places.

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