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

Really pretty and short - but definitely moderate (not easy) hike between the climb on the way back and the uneven surfaces. We were mostly alone mid afternoon on a Friday, but as we left we passed at least a bakers dozen of college students on their way in with (open on the trail) cheap beer, so perhaps less delightful late in the day on a Friday!

not easy. 1/2 mile but either up or down, no flat.

17 days ago

Fun little trail, very rocky as to be expected. Nice and scenic swimming area at the end. Fun but very, very crowded.

walking
21 days ago

This is a pretty easy trail. Not thing special to look at, but has a cute swimming hole at the end. It is ALWAYS CROWDED. We used to go swimming here 20 years ago before it became a thing in any guide books and there really wasn’t a trail to follow. But we skip it now because it’s just not big enough for the crowds.

hiking
1 month ago

Really enjoyed the hike to the falls. The trail is gorgeous, and the "obstacles" walking in and around rocks and tree roots made it interesting. Definitely not difficult, since we saw many people with young children during the hike. Took our two Chihuahuas along and they had no problem with the terrain. The falls at the end made the hike well worth it.

Old Butt Knob? More like Old Ass Knob. Literally and figuratively. All the little whoas saying this trail was great literally need to go to the doctor because they are still delusional from the exhaustion this trail induced. This trail is actually utter ass and disappointment, with 2 miles of the most grueling ascent I’ve ever seen and no payoff for it what so ever. Just my opinion tho, this was day 3 of a 40 mile hike and was quite possibly the worst thing to come across after the exhaustion I was already under. Old Ass Knob, you will not be missed, This is a warning to anyone that has any sense at all, except the trail joggers, by all means trip and fall

1 month ago

Easy. Nice clear water swimming hole

1 month ago

There and back again! In an effort to answer the question that has plagued scientists for millennia (how is it possible that the art loeb is uphill all the way both ways?) I did this trail as an out and back. I do not have an answer to the question but I can confirm that it is, in fact, all up hill both ways. Seriously though, this is such a great trail and has a different feel depending on which way you take it. Whether you do it as two separate hikes or do it all at once, I highly recommend doing it both ways. I prefer the south to north route as you end with all the beautiful views and more isolated portions of the trail (cold mountain is well worth the detour) — a great reward after a tough hike. Regarding gear I can just say that this is one trail that is made easier with a lighter pack. Really consider what you need to bring and why? Is there anything you can leave behind? Could you get by with a lighter pack? A tarp instead of a tent? Lighter cooking gear? There are so many purveyors or ultralight gear these days — if you hike and camp a lot it is well worth the investment to transition your gear as you can over time. I did this 60 miles in 2 days with a 12 pound pack. Hiked from Davidson river to Daniel Boone and then back up to the base of cold mountain (34 miles) on day one and then back to Davidson River on day 2 (26 miles). Having done it in more time with a heavier pack I can tell you that the lighter pack makes all the difference in the world, particularly in some of the more technical sections of the hike. Do be aware of water sources as you go. Water becomes more limited as the summer get on and particularly between the shelters and shining rock water can be very limited. There is a reliable spring just past shining rock heading towards the narrows and it’s worth getting water there whichever direction you are heading in. There is beautiful camping all along the trail but also remember that if you are camping above the blue ridge, current regulations require a bear canister. You will likely see more signs of bear activity than actual bears but they are around. All of the bears I have seen in the area have been timid and turned tail as soon as they saw me. Just part of the deal. Whatever you do and however you do this hike, just enjoy it!

backpacking
1 month ago

Great hike but definitely a killer... started at the Boy Scout Camp and ended at Davidson. I read this was the easier way to go however, don’t let the word “easy” fool you, it’s still very challenging. There were a couple tricky spots because of the unmarked trails just pay attention to your compass and map to be sure you’re heading in the right direction. We did this hike in 2 and a half days, our thighs were burning at the end from all of the ups and downs. Fantastic views in the Balsam knob area, unfortunately it started storming for us so we had to get out of there. There are a couple fire pits up there in that area, highly recommend snagging one of those if possible. Absolutely no coverage whatsoever so only plan to stay there if you know it’s not going to storm!! Bummed we didn’t get that opportunity because the sky would have been wicked to look at from there. Overall great hike, definitely worth it!

hiking
1 month ago

Oh my gosh of my favorite falls thus far. So gorgeous. Hike isn’t bad.

hiking
1 month ago

Loved the water fall. Was so much fun!!

Extremely fun! Very hard terrain. I accomplished this trail solo in less than 46 hours. Starting at the actual trail head and finishing at the Daniel Boone camp...awesome trail but is very very difficult and would not recommend to a beginner.

2 months ago

Swiming hole!!! Much more private than Graveyard Fields just up the road.

An easy hike over a well maintained trail. Easy parking. A must stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Despite the name, wear your fur. Otherwise there might be pointing, giggling, and shrinkage.

Five woofs!

Wow! What a hike. Definitely take a good map and a compass. We took Old Butt trail to Shining Rock and then back down Shining Creek. We went in mid July and there was so much vegetation the trail was almost unrecognizable in places. Old Butt trail is no joke and this is no easy stroll.

hiking
2 months 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.

hiking
2 months ago

Short hike. Again fair amount of people there on a hot day... but definitely not crowded. Bring some water shoes and don’t be afraid to get wet.

backpacking
2 months ago

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!

Tips:
*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 place...google 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 tent...eat 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 up..watch 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!

backpacking
2 months 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.

hiking
2 months 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.

hiking
2 months 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!

2 months ago

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

hiking
2 months ago

Gorgeous!!!

hiking
2 months 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.

3 months 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?
Thanks!

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail, family friendly!

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

hiking
3 months 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.

hiking
3 months 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.

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