Old Butt Knob - Big East Fork Loop

HARD 20 reviews

Old Butt Knob - Big East Fork Loop is a 11.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Canton, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

11.3 miles
3,264 feet

dog friendly





nature trips






wild flowers




old growth

over grown


16 days ago

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

29 days ago

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.

8 months ago

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.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

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.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

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.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

This was my first time in this trail. Went up old butt and came down shining creek. The only advice I have is take a portable charge for your phone because you will take some much video and pics. Once at 6000 feet the landscape was awesome.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Great hike. Need navigation for the way down. One pretty serious river crossing ...and this at low water level!

Monday, July 25, 2016

This loop is a nice way to knock out several less-traveled trails in one of the quintessential wildernesses of the Blue Ridge.

Starting on Shining Creek Trail from the Big East Fork camping area off Hwy 276, the Old Butt Knob Trail spurs to the right after about 3/4 of a mile. Although there is no sign for it, the trail is pretty obvious and very hard to miss if you are looking for it.

I can only describe the ascent as epic. Gaining 1500 feet in just the first 1/2 mile, you're up there pretty quick! Great lookouts abound - primarily to the south - all the way up to Shining Rock.

Heading south on the Art Loeb Trail coming through Flower Gap, there is a stunning view of the Cataloochie Divide, Mt Sterling and Guyot - the figurative and literal rock-stars of the eastern Smokies - all standing layered together to the northeast. All the while, blueberries line the path with such abundance there was no need to stop for them - just grab as you go! Does this sound like the after-life yet?

The Alltrails app on my phone came in pretty handy from this point on. The social trails along the ALT live up to their notoriety. I went down one for quite a ways before the app convinced me to turn around. Likewise, I missed the Grassy Cove access trail head, continuing on ALT for about 1/8 mile before retracing my steps. This is not a place to travel for the first time without some navigational skills and/or guidance system.

From the ALT, the Grassy Cove access trail is pretty overgrown, but upon arrival to Grassy Cove Ridge, it descends into a lush, old growth forest with (surprise) a beautiful grassy floor. Gorgeous and somewhat surreal - I loved this part of the hike the most!

The Big East Fork Trail forks to the left immediately following Grassy Cove's second creek crossing. From there, the creek stays on your left for the entire trip back to Hwy. 276. There are two areas where the trail takes you to the creek and disappears, but following along the edge, it picks back up again. The BEFT travels behind a western ridge that blocks the late afternoon sun, resulting in an everlasting twilight for its 3.5 mile duration.

The mapping track gave this loop 11.5 miles, but it is definitely just over 13. Even so, it still took 10 hours to complete! Maybe I could have shaved off another hour without the turnarounds and all the picture stops........but not much more than that.

Pack an extra Payday for this one!

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Monday, August 14, 2017

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Thursday, January 05, 2017