This trail is a whopper. Make sure you have some water and snacks packed. I did this in just under 6 hours and it ended up being 12.5 miles–a mile longer than described. This loop is also unmarked, so I found it helpful to follow my progress on the app.

The first 4 miles are pure ascent, with the first 2 being especially grueling. Be prepared. Once you reach Shining Rock, you can hop on Art Loeb from the 4-way intersection; the preset connecting trail is overgrown! Once you reach the Greasy Cove trail, the descent is gradual. Once this trail converges with Greasy Cove Prong, I believe the idea is to cross the river and continue the trail. However, I must have lost sight of the trail or perhaps it was obstructed due to fallen trees, because I couldn't find a connecting path. So I did what I had to, and hopped down the river on the rocks until I arrived at the Big East Fork trail. From here on, you walk alongside the river until you reach US 276. If you're like me, you'll be so relieved and take off your shoes to drive off barefoot.

backpacking
10 days ago

Great trail. Hiked to flower gap from shining creek trail head on night one. Then found a spot along the Yellowstone prong on MTS trail night two.

trail running
1 month ago

super fun trail!!! love it!

backpacking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Did this in reverse of what is shown. MST was a little rough at the start but it got better. Had some trouble connecting to the Bridges Camp Gap Trail, no markings. Got the the river a little early and had to bushwhack a little down stream. Once near the stream, we had great views good camping sites etc. Met ha hiker near Big East Fork who gave us some good advice, take Shinning Creek NOT Old Butt. Glad we took his advice. After getting home and reading more on Old Butt I think we make the right decision. Spent our time at Shinning Rock and Laurel Flats picking Blueberries. Hiked out on Art Loeb. Good hike!

Tiresome but well worth it!!

I wish I had the all trails map downloaded when I started.
highly recommend you download it before you start just in case.

I had to back track in a few areas as they didn't lead anywhere besides hideaway campsites. As there's not a lot of markings after you start you just need to pay attention to what looks like the main trail.

The first 2 -3 hours of the hike are no joke, literally all up hill. At one point I got sick and to crawl under a rock to nap. My advice don't be a dumbass like me and drink a red bull before you start.

I didn't touch all bases of the trail but a good majority.
I do recommend starting in the early morning so you can get a glimpse of everything and bring lots of water and good snacks.

trail running
5 months ago

5 months ago

backpacking
6 months ago

Unbelievable trail. Heads up, the ascent up is brutal with or without a pack. My girlfriend and I (and our very in shape German Shepard) took on this ascent with full pack. Our legs were toasted after the first 3 miles. The views are serene, but you earn every one. We camped after about 4.5 miles on the Art Loeb.

Day 2 was a blast. Downhill or flat for the remaining ~10 miles. You get a taste of all the different retain NC has to offer. Rock formations, green pastures and a long section along the creek with white water and swimming holes. There are two creek crossings, pack appropriately.

This is one of my all time favorites, but this is not a beginner trail. The uphill is brutal and the downhill gets very technical. The trail is completely unmarked so navigation skills are a must. The app is very helpful. Even so we had to backtrack a couple times.

Lightly trafficked and gorgeous, but not for the faint of heart or inexperienced backpacker.