Sam Knob Trail

MODERATE 77 reviews
#23 of 147 trails in

Sam Knob Trail is a 2.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Canton, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

2.5 miles
557 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly




nature trips

trail running






wild flowers



You can also do Sam's Knob Loop by combining the Sam Knob Trail, Little Sam Knob Trail, Mountain-to-Sea Trail and finally the Flat Laurel Creek Trail passing several waterfalls and creeks along the way. Take the short spur off Sam Knob Trail to the top of Sam Knob reaching 6068 Feet.

27 days ago

Very nice!

2 months ago

Nice hike at the higher elevations and going along some nice waterfalls.

7 months ago

Excellent views and pretty mild hike

9 months ago

The hike started off so prettily, it was wonderful watching the butterflies and bees in action. Then, I was warned about an angry diamond back refusing to move off of the tiny path (at beginning of the ascent). Apparently, people had tried to get it to scurry away but this just made it more angry.

Well, as the path was overgrown and about 12 inches wide, if that, I decided not to proceed....

It would be better to go in the mornings in the summer time, prior to the rocks heating up and the snakes sunbathing!

9 months ago

Great out and back.

9 months ago

Short but beautiful hike with amazing views at the summit. It's an easy hike and well worth it. Definitely going back here. It's very serene at the summit if you have it all by yourself.

10 months ago

Great hike! Awesome views!

10 months ago

Short easy hike with spectacular views throughout

11 months ago

This is a great day hike featuring stunning overlooks, a cool creekside section, and plenty of places to explore off trail. Be sure to get started early. The hike begins at one of the busiest trailheads in the area, and its often impossible to park on summer and shoulder season weekend afternoons. Fortunately most of the visitors head the opposite direction towards Black Balsam Knob and Tennant Mountain, and for good reason. That section of the Art Loeb Trail may be the most awe inspiring trail section in the state, and I highly recommend it for your first introduction to the Shining Rock Wilderness. If you have already checked Tenant Mountain off your list, Sam Knob is a great place to start your next adventure. This hike never drops below a mile in elevation, so be prepared for chilly mornings even in the depths of summer, and with exposed rock faces and high elevations always be prepared for sudden turns in the weather. Bring a rain Jacket and sunscreen.

This is probably the easiest hike of any significance in the Shining Rock Wilderness. Still, this is a wilderness area so trail markings are few and there are muddy sections and overgrown areas, especially in the summer. The trailhead is located to the right of the bathrooms at the main parking area. Follow it for a quarter mile, then down the stairs, for your first stunning vista, an open meadow surrounded by peaks and full of wildflowers. Find an intersection on the opposite side of the meadow. Take a right towards Sam Knob. You will return here and follow the trail to the left after the summit.

Climbing to the summit is the most strenuous section of the hike. I would rate it moderate. In the summer the vegetation greatly limits the views early on, but don't be discouraged. As you near the top sight lines clear and provide terrific views of surrounding ridges and peaks. Sam Knob is a grassy heath bald covered with head high grasses, blueberries, and blackberries. Trails are numerous across the knob leading to camp sites and a few rock overlooks with stunning views to the West and North. Take time to explore, but the vegetation is high and thick so long pants are a good idea and be careful to keep your bearings.

Head back down the same way you came up and reach the intersection with Flat Laurel Creek Trail near the meadow. Continue strait and head down the wooden stairs towards the creek. The vegetation changes as you head into the cool shady watershed. Be prepared for some muddy hiking even in dry weather. The Creek is gorgeous, and campsites abound. After you cross the creek the trail comes to a T, with the Flat Laurel Creek Trail continuing to the left. You cross back over the creek about a quarter of a mile up, then continue through a Balsam grove. The trail opens up the last half mile with blueberries and blackberries bordering the rocky incline. This is the most boring part of the hike, with a steady incline and a couple of views of where you have already hiked. You finish on the opposite end of the parking lot from where you started.

11 months ago

We started our hike in flat laurel creek then cut across to go to the top of Sam Knob. The views were great. Our dog loved this hike. Trail was a little overgrown near the top, but based on other hikes this has been fairly common as you reach "peaks".

Friday, June 16, 2017

Short hike with great views the whole way. Some stairs and big steps from washout. Great place to catch a sunset!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

This is a spectacular short hike...from the walk down to and across the beautiful meadow with Sam Knob and Little Sam Knob in front of you, to the climb up through a couple interesting switchbacks (while at times hearing the water cascading in Flat Laurel Creek far below), to reaching the exposed 6,040 foot summit area with amazing views in all directions. I was fortunate to have a beautiful day with puffy clouds and only a little haze, as well as a number of blooming rhododendron bushes and a few colorful flaming azaleas. The trail starts just to the right of the bathrooms in the Black Balsam parking lot at the end of the road. Get there early if possible...spots go fast with all the wonderful nearby trails.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Short hike

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Great short and relatively easy hike. Fell in love with the views.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Very nice views, even on a hazy day. Nice moderate trail. Took my wife and me about and hour in and out.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Really great trail with 3 types of scenery: walking in the grassy plain of the mountain ridge, tight dense rhododendron path, and then a beautiful summit (great place to eat lunch)! Really enjoyed the amazing views at the summit and along the way!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

This is a great little hike with amazing views at the summit. The Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wilderness areas are fantastic areas to hike.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Wind is howling all the time on the peak of the various balds. Outstanding vistas surround you as you progress through the knobs. Awesome area.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

It definitely challenged my body for the uphill part to the summit. But I loved all the diverse landscapes along this and wow, so worth it! I definitely wanted to die near the end, but like I said, so worth it. If you're a true intermediate/advance hiker this will be no problem.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It is very nice hike with superb views, flowers, swamp, creek and forest. I recommend the loop track (see recordings) and it is also worth to extend the loop: When you reach the Flat Laurel CT go to the right 1/4 miles to see some nice rapids.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Love this hike. It is just right to challenge the body with a uphill hike. Even my 10 and 9 yr old run up to the top. The views at the top are something to sit and enjoy lunch and just see its beauty.

Monday, August 01, 2016

I can only give this hike 3 stars because when we got to the summit there was nothing to see! The clouds or fog eliminated the view..we were very disappointed. The hike started off easy through the Broomstraw fields then when we started ascending the mountain it became a moderate climb with a few rough places. We will have to try it again in the future

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Short scenic hike with awesome summit view at the end. It is heavily trafficked. Did this after doing Tennent mountain and black balsam knob hike as they share the same parking lot.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

So far this hike is at the top of my list! It is a great moderate hike; some easy sections and some a little difficult makes this hike fun! Once at the top of Sam's Knob enjoy the Amazing 360 views!

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