Cold Mountain via Art Loeb and Cold Mountain Trail

MODERATE 89 reviews

Cold Mountain via Art Loeb and Cold Mountain Trail is a 16.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Canton, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

16.8 miles
4114 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly






wild flowers


Open hike over balds, with multiple 360 degree views for miles.... The portion of the Art Loeb Trail is most spectacular. Black Balsam and Tennant Mountains both exceed 6,000 feet in elevation. The balds provide fantastic 360* views all around, and everywhere else is just about 180* views. Fantastic! The trail I've outlined in the TPO is a figure-8 loop, keeping to the Art Loeb trail in portions, taking an old forest-service road in others.This way you get the combined beauty of the Art Loeb trail with a mixture of wooded-views from the service-road (avoiding redundant stuff that comes with out-and-back hikes). Be wary of spring/summer storms on those balds!!!!

7 months ago

If you want a 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is a great hike....and you don't have to go too far or work too hard to get it! We only walked about a mile and we had spectacular views. I do think if you wanted to go farther, you should have a compass and a map as this is a wilderness area and signage is minimal. But it is lovely!

trail running
7 months ago

I train here. It's a bit tricky up top because the trails diverge a lot, you need to climb shining rock. It's in the forest clearing right before hitting old butt trail. You can take flower gap trail and that'll lead straight to shining rock and cold mountain. Yeah, seldom you see bears and rattlesnakes but they're there during Summer. In the Summer, flower gap can be really overgrown.

7 months ago

Only hiked part of this trail but what we did hike was beautiful. Just as stated a nice moderate hike, the beginning of the trail is little heavier traffic than I'd prefer but tapers off once you hit Bolsam. Stunning views once you hit 1/4 mile in and beyond.

7 months ago

I only completed a short section of this amazing 30.1 mile trail last month, but what a section it is...up and over Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain to Ivestor Gap! The terrain and the views are spectacular, and the blooming rhododendron were gorgeous. I hope to come back soon to make it out to Shining Rock...maybe even Cold Mountain if I am up for a real challenge!

8 months ago

Hiked this trail with my 13 year old daughter. Amazing and beautiful but very dificult. We hiked the entire trail from the northern point at the Boy Scout camp to the Davidson River Campground at the southern end.
The trail took us 3 &1/2 days to complete. Bear canisters were required which make the pack heavier. I highly reccommend this trail for experienced hikers. Water is scarce so carry water with you.

8 months ago

This was an amazing, crazy experience. The first 4 miles over Black Balsam and Tennet mountain were simply breathtaking. The rhododendron, laurel, Galax, gray's lilies were all in full bloom. The views were 360* and stunning. The second 5 miles were very challenging, steep, narrow, and completely enclosed with head-high blueberry bushes and other undergrowth. Camped at Deep Gap. There were almost no views, no trail markers in the labyrinth of trails and no water sources past Shining Rock. The only panoramic view was from the top of Cold Mountain. It was exciting and somewhat scary when heavy rain kept my AllTrails app from loading. Had to go back to old school map, compass, and dead reckoning. I will definitely do it again now that I know the challenges.... I would rate the second half of this trail from Black Balsam Parking area to Cold Mountain as very strenuous.

9 months ago

We hiked from the Black Balsam parking lane/area to Shining Rock. We had three dogs with us and they LOVED it. Tough hike, but totally do-able and worthwhile if you are in reasonably good shape. Art Loeb trail is fairly difficult to follow since there are no blazes to speak of; I did use the Alltrails map and tracker to make sure we stayed on the trail since nothing is really marked. Shining Rock is pretty sweet!

9 months ago

Difficult to navigate if you don't have a map. There are trails everywhere, and once you get past Tennent Mountain there aren't any blazes, so it's hard to tell what trail you're actually on. The views though were amazing.

10 months ago

I just spent the night at Flower Gap last night. It was May 7th and it was cooold! The area I camped in was open so it was windy but the views were spectacular! I watched the sunset and sunrise over the mountains all around. No bear run-ins thank God. I think that they are out more in the summer when all of the blueberries are blooming. The Ivestor Gap trail was really wet. Recent rains and snow have a lot of the trail looking like a creekbed. I will take that on day two instead of up and down. All in all, a great overnight trip.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

What a great place to be, working bald to bald. The knobs allow 360 degree vistas on clear days, magical.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Such a great out n back! Highly suggest to backpackers looking for a good 1-2 nights.

Friday, March 10, 2017

i haven't done this trail in years but it was a childhood favorite of mine. Shining rock was one to the more memorable hikes I have as a young teenager.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

One of the most beautiful areas in the southeast

Monday, February 27, 2017

Just gorgeous! Great trail for doggies. 360 degree views of the mountains at some points.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Done this trail a few times from Davidson River Campground in Pisgah, up over the Parkway and into Shining Rock Wilderness to Camp Daniel Boone.
One of my favorites in the area for sure. Also a nice addition to cut down the Parkway following the road to Sam Knob and then connecting back to the bald via Art Loeb spur trail.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The best!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Great hike to Shining Rock from Blue Ridge Pkwy over Black Balsam Knob and camped on a bald before Shining Rock.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Completed a small part of this trail; round trip was around 5 miles. Make sure to wear sunscreen because once you get to the top you are pretty much exposed. Once you get to the top you have 360 degree views of the mountains. Some parts were a bit rocky and narrow so you will get scuffed up by the brush. We took our lab with us and there were several other hikers out with their dogs.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Best 3 day 2 night backpacking trail in Pisgah. Great scenic views as you climb. Must do if you like to backpack and hike more than just a few miles!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Great trail and very demanding. watch out for Pilot Mountain no matter which direction you're headed. can be done in 2 full days, especially if you cut out cold mountain but that was my favorite peak so dont miss it! recommend 3 days if you wanna soak it all in!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

****Update as I can't edit my last review. Came to camp here 2 nights ago. Set up a site at the Shining Rock Junction where Art Loeb, Ivestor, Shining Creek, & Old Butt Knob come together.

There is a massive nuisance bear making his rounds at Shining Rock.

I was approached at camp in broad DAYLIGHT. He walked up 10 feet behind me- he was not aggressive, but he nonchalantly kicked my partner and I out of our camp, dragged my backpack through some bushes beyond the site, and then proceeded to harass our neighbors a few hundred feet over. 8 of us could NOT scare this guy away and he continued to casually walk away and then come back. He is NOT afraid and is associating backpacks with food, as a couple staying at our site the previous night had the same thing happen to them. (We had spoken to them on their way out- didn't realize it was the same campsite until I found the remnants of her pack where the bear dragged mine. And yes I had to pack her things out, so for f***s sake please pack your trash out). He continued to show up at our campsite unafraid and the 8 of us finally just packed up and left.

BEWARE. Don't forget your bear spray (like I did). And happy camping.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hands down favorite wilderness in the SE. I concur with the advice on water. Fill up every chance you get because the sources become VERY scarce past the Shining Rock Junction toward Cold Mountain. A couple decent trickling streams along Investor Gap can be found as well as around the Shining Rock Junction toward the Art Loeb side just before the forest opens up to the balds..

No place to camp with views at Cold Mountain. A couple outlooks you can bushwhack to and enjoy but mostly you'll be camping amongst the trees. I came here the first time thinking I'd have a beautiful mountain-scape campsite. Negative. Fun hike nonetheless. The narrows are a little eerie as mentioned and bears really like to prowl here.. Had one at my camp at night. So be respectful and remember your required BEAR CANISTERS.

Will always return here when I'm wanderlusting. Make sure you visit in August for the blueberry explosions. Best.

Monday, March 28, 2016

My wife and I backpacked with our two dogs from the trailhead on Black Balsam Road, north to Shining Rock, where we camped for two nights before hiking back on Investor Gap. This section of the Art Loeb is quite challenging, but rewards with excellent views, including a few peaks where you can take in a full 360 degrees of mountain scenery. There are also plenty of places to camp all along the trail.

Note that there is no water access anywhere along this section of the trail; at least not that we found, when we visited in late March. Pack plenty of water. When you reach Shining Rock Gap, head just a couple hundred paces East down Shining Creek Trail, and you'll find a small running creek for water access.

If you're burnt out after the difficult hike north on Art Loeb, as we were, take the Investor Gap Trail back south. It runs adjacent to the west of the Art Loeb Trail, and is a much easier hike with much less elevation change (at the expense of Art Loeb's great views).

Overall we found this to be a challenging hike, but well worth it for the outstanding views and great campsites.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Great hike with scenic views along the Narrows at the Peak of Cold Mountain (if you can't find them you didn't go far enough). However, PLEASE NOTE: there is no water source between Deep Gap and Shining Rock Gap. Fill up at one end or the other to avoid dehydration.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I am stingy with 5 stars. This is 5 stars without a doubt. I have seen it billed as all of the benefits of the AT in a weekend and while that is an exaggeration, I get the comparison.

I started at the boycott camp and walked South, which means you lose overall altitude. 4 miles or so up and then I tool the spur up to the top of cold mountain and slept there. It sounds better than it was. No views, but hey, they named a movie after it so I checked that box.

You then go South through the Shining Rock Wilderness and pass through an area called the narrows, which is just really tall weeds/plants and a little eerie. Then a really solid ridgline with some scrambling. Past some pines and eventually into the open where you hit Flower Gap and are treated to about 6-7 miles of awesome vistas with a lot of up and down over the peaks.

Past black balsam knob and you go down to cross the BRP. Then it is about 18- 20 more miles of peaks with vistas at most of the tops. Much more forested and the climbs get smaller as you get nearer the end. Finish through rhododendron tunnel and out into the campground area.

A couple pieces of advice:
1. Locate water sources before you go. there are not a lot of them so miss one and you will get thirsty
2. If you go late summer/fall be advised when you are in the open area the bees are nuts. Just suck it up and go because you will not avoid them. I did not get stung but the hum of the bees was like a plane
3. Look at a picture of the junction in shining rock. You can take a wrong turn very easily and walk for quite a way
4. I backpacked it and took 2 nights. Take you time and enjoy but...
5. Most of all, do this hike!

Friday, February 13, 2015

One of my favorites. Have been up here 200+ times; wouldn't repeat that much if it was not beautiful! Take a bear vault. Water filter or tablets if you stay more than a day.

Monday, October 14, 2013

excellent backpacking trail. The best views and tallest mountains east of the Mississippi! These bald grassy peaks allow for views that are well worth the strenuous hike. Just make sure you are prepared and pack light but warm cause it will get mighty cold with the wind rolling over. Shinning rock offers a little bouldering and climbing opportunities as well, just remember never over commit! You are what they call the middle of Nowhere. Overall i would highly recommend this trip to all hikers beginner to expert. The views itself will get anyone hooked!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

One of my favorite backpacking destinations when I have a long weekend and can drive in from Nashville. The Art Loeb route, can be accessed either at the point mentioned midway through Black Balsam Road or by way of a quick ascent near the parking area at the end of the road. That access point is just before the gate closing off the old road (mentioned previously as an old rail route), and it goes straight up. Once on the bald, the Art Loeb trail provides the best views from a trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail is labelled "Most Difficult" for a reason, so don't pack too much on your beginning friend's back. But bring them, because the views will hook them. Along Art Loeb, you can see Looking Glass Rock and beyond -- and all around. Do bring a map and compass, because the trails aren't marked well in areas. Giddy from the spectacular views, I've had to backtrack a couple times before. Once off the bald, you get to the Shining Rock Wilderness area sign and the trail to Shining Rock. This takes you along mountain laurel trails on the side of the mountain with a view of Cold Mountain to your left. A few springs trickle down to make the trail muddy in places; these will provide small areas to filter water, if you need. Be careful not to suck up a salamander. Once at Shining Rock, you come into a forested area of pine and corkscrewing mountain laurel. Set up your tent in a campsite, grab water and a snack, and make the climb up onto the "shiny," white rock. It's the best seat in the house for the sunset. Be careful on your way down (or up), if you pack in a nightcap. This area can provide a strenuous one-nighter or a multi-day adventure. Just check the maps for off-shooting trails.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

just completed this trail 2 weeks ago in torrential rain. the trails had become streams and it was like hiking in a river. I would not recomend doing it in similar conditions unless youre fairly good with map reading and land navigation as there where many points that the cloud canopy was so low that visibility was less than 30ft. there are points where the trail is poorly marked and that made for an interesting time navigating. besides the non stop flooding and thunderstorms, we had the trail completely to ourselves, we didnt see a single soul, and hiking in the clouds was actually pretty cool.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Do NOT camp at Ivestor Gap, large bear and no where to hang food bag. I had my bag hanging as high as I could get it and watched him take it at 1:00 am.

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