Shining Creek-Old Butt Knob Loop Trail

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Pisgah National Forest

Shining Creek-Old Butt Knob Loop Trail is a 8.3 mile moderately 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.

Distance: 8.3 miles Elevation Gain: 2,890 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

camping

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

This loop is not blazed because it is located in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. Some trail junctions are very difficult to recognize. Begin on Shining Creek trail (old roadbed) from the Big East Fork Trailhead. Ascend along the creek most of the way to the Art Loeb Trail at the top of the ridge (approximately 4.1 miles). Turn right. You'll see Shining Rock after about 0.5 miles. Stay to the right and ascend uphill near the rock. Just past the trail on the left that leads to the top of the rock for spectacular views look for a faint trail on the right. Turn here on Old Butt Knob Trail. This junction may be difficult to recognize. Continue down this trail to rock outcrops with great views. Continue descending until you intersect with Shining Creek Trail again. Turn left to return to the trailhead.

We did the counterclockwise route up old butt knob to Shining creek. While it was a nice workout, the trail is very narrow with limited views. We would recommended just doing Shining creek trial up and back to Shining rock. Shining creek trial was a beautiful route with an easy to follow trail along the stream.

This is a challenging hike with nice payoffs - beautiful views, Shining Rock, waterfalls, and a cool forest walk. We went counterclockwise, which was super steep for the first couple of miles, but nice that we got the water features on the other side. Hiking down the steeper side (going clockwise) would have been tough on the knees, but an easier hike up. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a workout/challenge. Just give yourself extra time, this took us about 6 hours and ended up being 10 miles.

hiking
2 months ago

Yes this is a tough hike, but beautiful. We took the counter clock wise loop. Both ways have their pros and cons. Be prepared, mile 1-2 had 1362' of elevation gain. Allow yourself more time than you think for several reasons: 1) It's steep and slow going up, but going down is also slow on account of being steep and rocky. 2) It's beautiful and you want time to go to the side trail overlooks, play around Shinning rock and admire the waterfalls. The top of Old Butt is nothing special. The peak and destination point is Shinning Rock, again though, there are incredible views from the various short side trails. We ended with 9.3 miles by the time we got back to the car.

hiking
2 months ago

This was a great hike. The weather was cool and no rain. It was a workout. We went clockwise as suggested on some previous reviews. The Shining Creek Path went uphill from the parking lot to Shining Rock, along the creek, with many beautiful cascades. There were some swimming holes at the base of cascades that would be tempting in the heat of summer. We rock hopped across a few stream crossings. Shining Rock is a fun place to climb white quartz. We spent a fun hour on Shining Rock and its high points with views of surrounding mountains. There were large patches of trailing arbutus with many mountain Laurel and spruce forest. We came down Old Butt Knob Trail. It was steeper than Shining Creek Path. It was reminiscent of the Appalachian Trail in the Whites and Maine. Many roots and rocks covered by dead leaves, that were slippery at times. I was glad I wore knee braces and had my hiking poles. Some of the step downs were 18 inches. We hiked on a Wednesday. We saw 3 pairs of backpackers and 2 pairs of day hikers.

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail. Tough but worth it. Some really cool quartz formations at the top. Definitely go clockwise— that steep incline right out of the gate would suck.

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
scramble
snow
washed out
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Loved this trail. We went clockwise - following shining creek path along the river for a gradual ascent and returning on old butt knob trail for a steep descent - and were glad we did. Would not have enjoyed the straight uphill right out of the gate. Lots of scenery changes on the hike up. Highly recommend tacking on a couple extra miles to Grassy Cove Top - the walk there is mostly flat and the 360° views are worth it. Also recommend exploring all of the side trails as they are generally short and lead to better views than you will get on the main trail.

hiking
over grown
rocky
scramble
5 months ago

Difficult first part, steep, rocky and slick from leaves. Not much view at the top but lovely quartz and beautiful forest and creek on the way down. Suggestion: be in shape for this one.

hiking
over grown
scramble
8 months ago

Tough as nails.

Amazing as usual! Whooped my ass for sure haha

hiking
blowdown
over grown
rocky
scramble
9 months ago

Took the counter-clockwise route with my dog. The climb up Shining Creek is beautiful but there are some very tricky spots with loose rocks and and downed trees. Took Old Butt down and some parts are so overgrown that I might have lost the trail or turned back if it weren't for my dog leading the way. Old Butt is STEEP and I had to let Max off leash and use both hands. My poles helped me catch myself a lot on the wet, slick leaves. If you are going down on Old Butt, make sure you've given yourself plenty of daylight. I did not and probably added an hour to the hike to pick my way down. Shining Rock at the top is nice and I did notice a couple of well placed camping areas. There is plenty of water to filter on Shining Creek Trail and none on Old Butt Knob Trail, so plan accordingly! I'm curious as to whether or not there have been changes to this hike because the distance seemed longer than the estimate, but that might have been due to the downed trees and sketchy water crossings making it feel long.

Shining rock was neat but I was expecting a bit bigger!

hiking
10 months ago

This was a great hike. Great views in a few spots, and even though the trail isn’t blazed, it’s still pretty easy to follow. Like another reviewer said, the worst of the Old Butt Knob trail is over after you reach Chestnut Ridge. I saw 4 people the whole time, and all were weird and skittish.

Great trail about. 5 to .75 miles in you want to stay left otherwise you had down to the big east fork trail instead.

hiking
over grown
10 months ago

Strenuous but rewarding hike. I completed it solo anbd have done many tough hikes on the east and in the west - this is one of them. Do not recommend for beginners due to lack of trail markings and intense elevation changes. I saw 1 person the whole time at the top, but based on the number of spiderwebs I ran into I was the first person up this route for at least 24 hrs. Once you get to Cumberland Ridge the worst is over, but there's still a couple more climbs. Bushwacking required to the top. There's a lot of little trails that lead you to some of the best views money can buy. I got turned around a couple of times and was very thankful for this app and my USB battery to get back quickly. No service most of the way and no water on the way up (counterclockwise). so fill up at the bottom. I would recommend doing the counterclockwise route because going down that quickly at the end seems dangerous and painful on the knees. That said, it's tough and in retrospect I would have taken more than my 6-pack of IPA for nutrition. I will definitely do this hike again and bring some ultralight camping gear for one of the great site options.

hiking
over grown
11 months ago

We took this trail over Memorial Day Weekend and it was tough! We are experienced hikers who love day hikes and challenges. Highly recommend this but it is over grown in spots and we only saw one other hiker over a holiday weekend. Not well traveled, spots are overgrown, but the top of Shinning Rock is worth the climb. I have previously done the much easier trail up to the top. So there are options to get to this amazing place. Would not recommend for inexperienced hikers or small children

hiking
over grown
rocky
Wed May 15 2019

Love this hike! Beautiful way up along the river. The way back is steep but manageable. Definitely recommend!

hiking
Thu Mar 28 2019

This trail is a tough one. We started off early so that we could get back in time . Good thing we did, going up the first part of the trail we climbed about 2000’. Then it levels off a little. Finding shining rock was difficult due to the trails not marked. There was growth that hangs in the trail. I found it easier to hold my hands up while walking through. I highly recommend this trail if you are ready for a super tough, but fun hike.

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