nature trips



wild flowers


3 days ago

Shady trail and nice enough but no great views as you go along. Agree it’s is easy for anyone that can go up and down hills. The real attraction is the falls at the end. Very pretty. The swimming hole is family-friendly and crowded at midday.

6/30/18-7/1/18 WOW! This was our first backpacking trip. Amazing hike! Loved how the first 5 miles and last 5 miles were along rivers! We loved it...and so did our white German Shepherd pup! Even though the weather called for some storms, it only rained at night while in our tent. It was very cloudy in some areas, but do not be fooled! Those foggy clouds move quickly! What looked to be a cloud covered evening turned into a beautiful sunset and sunrise the next morning! Same up by Tennent Mountain...cloudy but within 5 minutes it cleared! Before I get to my tips and tricks, I just want to say I’d do this exact same route again someday. Loved it and worth it!

*download this app so you can track where you are while offline! Not all the trails are clearly marked. We added a couple miles after going the wrong way. And we ended up veering off Mountain To Sea Trail onto the graveyard trail ... which ended up meeting back up with mountain to sea eventually, but that part was very confusing. If you have this app and look at where you are shortly after each fork, you will be fine...we happened not to look early enough on this turn.
(Grab a trail map at the very least! There is a Pisgah National Forest Ranger station you can go to prior to getting to the hiking map it)
*keep phone in airplane mode and bring an extra battery pack and the correct cord hookup for your phone-we took pictures and ran out of battery at the last 5 miles where the pigeon river is so amazing! (Plus Bridges Camp Gap Trail can be tricky)
*Bring hiking poles. Our $20 amazon ones worked great! We are athletic people and couldn’t imagine doing this without poles. So much better on your joints
*bear canisters required-rented one at Pura Vida Adventures Pisgah Forest NC. Keep it in some brush ~100 yards from there too
*Want to see black bears? Keep very quiet. Don’t want to see black bears? Clank poles together here and there and sing a song. We saw none (I didn’t want to see any our first trip! But people along the trails did see them. Don’t eat by or in your tent, don’t feed bears, bury your poop, because even if you don’t see a bear, don’t let there be a chance your area attracts bears for the next people. I also carried some bear spray.
*Don’t watch the Netflix movie “Backcountry” before going. ;)

*Start on Shining Creek path and end on Big East Fork. Wouldn’t want to go the other way -easier to climb up fast than the other way around!
*Watch your river-fill up before the ridge (around 4 miles in! Water is scarce till getting past the ridge. On map it looks like you cross the water a few times at the end of Shining Creek but those water sources are much less ... it’s not a true river site.
*we used Sawyer filters off amazon-took 6 normal plastic water bottles plus the 2 pouches that cane with our two sawyer filters. (Keep a couple designated clean bottles and just keep pouring the bottles into the pouches and squeezing them into the clean ones.
*at 6.2 miles you’ll see the Shining Rock Wilderness sign by a meadow. Many camp areas up that way ... some not covered, some up by the woods. There were 5 other couples up that way. Beautiful sunset and sunrise there! We stayed by the trees because we heard the wind and rain can get crazy if rain is called for up there-and it was, but the couple in the meadow were alright.
*we left late but wanted to make it to 8miles...there was another place to camp by there but not a bunch of options like at 6.2miles.
*We went on the wrong trail for about a mile and turned around to go on the correct trail up to black balsam...if you aren’t going up for a while check where you are!
*off the ridge, where Mountain To Sea Trail starts, there was a forest with big White Dots on some trees or rocks helping you keep course.
*Like I said we someone ended up on the graveyard trail which met up with Mountain To Sea so it was ok, but that was very confusing.
*after Mountain To Sea comes Bridges Gap Trail. Our phones died and this trail leads you right down to a large boulder on the river! That must be the Gap ha! You have to walk down the boulder (for us a large tree trunk was sticking out where the trail continued) but you have to walk to the boulder a ways to see where the trail continues (it’s on the same side of the river)
*THEN you ARE ON BIG EAST FORK. We saw no sign that said we were suddenly on Big East Fork! It was a beautiful hike by the Pigeon River! Places to camp and swim here as well.

I think we were somehow at Skinny Dip Falls (not sure) where there were a lot of people swimming. There’s a bridge you cross that us pretty high your dog.

Hope this helps and does not deter!! It truly is SPECTACULAR!

Super easy hike to awesome (small) waterfall and swimming hole. It is extremely busy on nice weekends so get there early to beat the crowds!

7 days ago

Hiked end of June, 2018 with friends and two dogs. Having hiked a fair amount in Western North Carolina, there is no better hike that captures such a wide range of terrain. We hiked South to North, from Davidson River Campground to Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp and completed in 3 full days. Dropped a car the night before at Boy Scout Camp and stayed in Etowah at Etowah Valley Golf (dog friendly). Glad we decided to take 3 days. There are so many spots with amazing views (especially day 2) that you simply don’t want to rush past. Plan to spend at least an hour at Black Balsam. Get a map and check your GPS from time to time. We got on a side trail twice on the final day. The second time, at the Cold Mountain spur trail, be sure to keep left. The trail follows the ridge. Blazes (white) south to north are few and far between. I don’t remember seeing any in the shining rock wilderness area.

12 days ago

Beautiful falls with a lot of swim holes on up the falls if you want to do a little climbing to find them. We got there about 9:30 (Mon 7/2/18) and it wasn’t crowded, but it was getting pretty packed by the time we left. The water was definitely refreshing!! Great short hike off the parkway.

18 days ago

Was a nice little hike. We went late morning when it was not crowded. We took our senior dog, but the trail consisted of too many steps for her to be comfortable. The falls and swimming hole were very scenic. Parking at the outlook across the road made it simple. Had a great simple hike, we recommend going!

22 days ago

super easy walk to the falls. beautiful and COLD! went around 5pm. there was a good amount of people there

23 days ago


24 days ago

Sean there is no clear water along the way you must filter water we use a sawyer filter, i just did it in 2 days back packing 35 pound pack, We did south to north and we moved fast. It rained a ton so that made water finding easy but it filled our boots and made the rock hard to walk on.. There was a ton of places for water. The hard place was 4 miles before crossing the blue ridge to Black Balsam and about 4 miles after that peak around shining rock. it was over 32 miles one way and can be very hard at times . The climb up to the blue ridge was hard and just keep going and going plan for 1.5 MPH at the hard point with a pack. Everyone said there were a ton of bears out. Plan for 3 days, if it does not rain keep an eye on water they can dry up fast . I would keep a min 32 oz at all times so fill up the 3L when you can. we ended up do around 38 miles due to a side trail we did.

27 days ago

I didn’t go yet. But I heard this is a awesome trail, so Interesting about it and planning to go.
First the all I want ask anyone know has clean water source along the trail?
Second I don’t want go by myself, just in case for safety, anyone else planning go to this trail, can we go together? Be a partner for each other?

28 days ago

Great trail, family friendly!

The hike got my heart pumping.... the falls are beautiful, the water clear. It’s worth the trek.

1 month ago

This trail is easy and decent. It does smell funny but I feel the vegetation is to blame more so than dog feces. The falls are beautiful and people don't take their trash with them when they leave as the area around the falls was littered with cigarette butts, discarded water bottles, and clothing. Its really a disappointment because the falls are so nice. Also you might want to review the trail map before you leave out because the mountains to sea trail is a blue trail but the skinny dip falls trail color is white we started in the wrong location and almost went the wrong way.

Beautiful and quick hike. We had a great albeit freezing time playing in the various pools beneath the falls with the little one.

1 month ago

This is a hard hike! If anyone tell you any different then you should doubt them. We started at the Camp Daniel Boone (BSA) and headed south. I was careful to mark and photograph the true water sources for those that wish to use this data. We hiked 8 miles and spent the night. We finished the hike the next day at the Black Balsam parking lot. It was a good 12 miles total and several 6k peaks. Study a map and plan well. This is a tough hike with great rewards and physical challenges.

1 month ago

A quick simple hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway (park at the Looking Glass Rock Overlook and access is right across the road). Pathway was easy to navigate with stone steps on the hilly portions. An easy hike with the reward of a very beautiful natural waterfall and swimming hole. I went late morning mid-week and met only one other couple. Explore the banks downstream and you can easily find a quiet area to have a picnic and enjoy the sound of the water.

1 month ago

great short hike to a beautiful series of falls and pools. very refreshing and very cool water after you work up a sweat.

only downside were way too many dogs on the trail and there skat.

love dogs, but really? not the place...

the trail was great and the falls were great

Great hike! Short and sweet, has a really great waterfall and pools. Has rocks and steps so going can be slick in the rain.

Great trail as said before. The weather changes fast. We got caught in a bad hail storm. Despite that there are numerous of places to camp. I went counter clockwise and that was very challenging although it left some great views for the second day (black balsam, shining rock etc.). If you go counter clockwise and plan to go up old butt knob be sure to have at least 2:30 hours from East Fork and at least 2.5 L of water filled up from the river. It is a very steep section and the first campsite takes quite some hiking to get to. If not shining creek path is a much easier alternative. Old Butt Trail gets a little confusing near shining rock as well. We had to bushwhack through about a quarter mile to remain on the trail. If you are inexperienced and new to the shining rock area consider downloading and viewing this map in real-time, it helps a lot.

Good hike with varied scenery. Spectacular views on the ridge.
Heavy traffic along the bald around Black Balsam and around the falls in the valley (due to parking areas).
Lots of areas to camp past the falls just before you go back into the Wilderness Area.
The river is spectacular. Lots of places to swim.

Replenish water just before the Shining Creek Path ends (When you get into the pine trees after about 4.5 miles look for water. It is shown on the map). Very little water on ridge line (there is some). Plenty of places to get water from Black Balsam onwards. There were no bugs in Apr/May.
Loop the direction of the Shining Creek Path being the first day. A little strenuous but better than going the opposite way. A good two night trip if you want to take your time. Can easily be an overnight trip.
Detour up to Shining rock - the view is worth it.

I would consider this a relatively well used trail. Definitely saw a fair amount of people hiking and camping even though the weather called for an overnight storm.

Great little swimming hole included with scenic falls

2 months ago

Great trail! Pack light and enjoy this hike. Each section has its own feel and challenges. Spurs to shining rock and cold mountain are well worth the time and effort. Evenings still cool so prepare accordingly if you are going soon. Once your at elevation the wind can be a factor at night so keep an eye on that as you plan your hike. Check my recording for campsites and springs/water sources.

Love this hike. Done it a couple times now. Has a great variation of landscapes and views. Be careful of storms moving in fast. Weathered my worst camp storm ever while here. Ran down Black Balsam knob just in time before the storm hit.

3 months ago

Just got off the trail a few days ago, and it was awesome!! If you are looking for a challenge with some beautiful views, then this trail is for you.

3 months ago

We did this loop over 4 days 3 nights it was a nice easy rewarding trip. Hitting some of the best sections of the art loeb. Navigating was not to difficult, some sections are not marked at all. MTS section of course was well marked. Graveyard fields were closed to camping due to bear activity. So we avoided staying near that area. Bear canister is required and spray is recommended.

3 months ago

Art Loeb trail kicked my butt. Be prepared for Pilot Knob, it’s killer. Beautiful views, killer hike. Very difficult but awesome.

I loved this trail. Hiked it counter clock wise. The trail provides a variety of forests and IMO is the best area for hiking in Southern North Carolina. Black Balsam provides great views and waterfalls are plenty. Dozens of prime campsites along the way.

Been hiking here for 20+ years. One of my all time favorite trails

5 months ago

Art Loeb was a real trooper, I find it amazing that Art built this trail the old fashion way by bushwhacking his way through the forest. Art chose the tallest five peaks he could find to climb, and when that wasn’t strenuous enough for him he decided to fully descend into the bottom of the canyon before hiking up to the next mountain summit. My wife, son and I hiked the Art Loeb trail in late fall and while the days were just beautiful the nights had fierce winds which made it nearly impossible to have a fire and enjoy the evenings. We only allowed 2 ½ days to hike the whole 30 miles which was a mistake because it didn’t allow us enough time to enjoy the views, next time I’ll provide 3 ½ days. We started the hike from Davidson River Campground and the first half of the trail is through dense forest but shortly after you cross the Blue Ridge Parkway the trail opens up. I have hiked dozens of impressive peaks in the Rockies but when you are carrying a 40-pound pack and trying to complete this trail in 2 ½ days its quite difficult, even for the most experienced hiker. We drove up a day before we started the hike and hid water near different road crossings that ended up being a really smart choice. We only had one car, so we rented a car from Hertz just outside of the park. Then drove up to the Boy Scout camp (where the trail ends) and dropped our car off. Then drove back to Hertz and they dropped us off at the Davidson River trailhead where the trail begins. They didn’t even charge us and the car only cost us about $30 for the day. Because of the grand views at the summits I would definitely hike this trail again but I can’t stress enough that I would allow for at least 3 ½ days to complete the hike.

Very easy trail that anyone could hike (my 80 yr old grandmother did it). The swimming hole is gorgeous the only reason I cannot give 5 stars is because of how crowded it can get (we went in the summer). If you can avoid the crowds and go on a weekday morning I’m sure it would be beautiful and relaxing.

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