Shining Rock Wilderness Loop via Art Loeb Trail

MODERATE 64 reviews
#1 of 4 trails in

Shining Rock Wilderness Loop via Art Loeb Trail is a 9.7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Canton, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

9.7 miles
1,440 feet

dogs on leash





nature trips




wild flowers



over grown


8 hours ago

On 8/15/2018 at 1700hrs my wife and I saw an adult black bear on the Art Loeb Trail just below Shining Rock.

Someone had left a day pack on the ground there between the junction for the Cold Mountain trail and Shining Rock.

The bear WAS NOT scared away easily.

Also the blueberries and blackberries are now mature and we saw bear scat on the trail in multiple places.

Exercise caution between Grassy Cove Top and Shining Rock as the crowds fall off and it seems people are being reckless with their food.

Other than the bear this hike is great.

Also be careful to avoid the side trails around Shining Rock. It’s really easy to get lost up there!

14 days ago

This was one of several hikes I’ve taken during two consecutive summers of visiting these mountains and this trail is by far my favorite! The trail is relatively flat until the last 3/4 of a mile, but even the steepest parts were manageable. The whole trail offers beautiful views or surrounding peaks, with the best views coming from the top of shining rock itself. I’m an extreme novice hiker and not at all in great shape but I loved this hike and did not consider to be difficult.

16 days ago

Completed a backpacking trip on this trail in late July - trail was diverse, views were amazing, but the reviews that mention the lack of markings are definitely not lying. Downloaded the AllTrails map but would not recommend trying to tackle Shining Rock without a paper map of Pisgah. Footing tricky in places but overall a moderate trail that delivers in all the important ways.

1 month ago

This was one of the best hikes I’ve done in the Southeast!! I will definitely be going back in the fall and spring. The 360° views at the top of Tennent Mountain are unbeatable and you walk through a sea of wild blueberries and blackberries to get there (those will be ripe in the fall. Watch for bears!). I will say that for a pretty active hiker like myself, this trail was difficult not moderate. The trail through Shining Rock Wilderness gets pretty narrow and there’s bad footing everywhere. I would say the hike to Shining Rock is worth it, it’s pretty insane to see quartz boulders the size of houses! Next time I will wear long pants and bring more bug spray. Take care to bring lots of water and if you’re hiking alone make some noise every now and again since I saw bear scat!

2 months ago

Awesome even in the rain!!!

3 months ago

Amazing hike. I’ve hiked it year round. Especially love the fall. Blueberry bushes abound.

4 months ago

Love this trail! Hiked here 4/2/18, perfect weather, even got a small sunburn. the views and diversity of this trail is amazing.

4 months ago

A great trail with a mix of sights and terrain. We did Art Loeb to Shining Rock first, then Ivestor Gap back. Beautiful views mixed with quiet forests. We had a great time. I would recommend bringing your hiking poles, the footing can get tricky in parts, especially if your knees bother you like mine do. Also, bring a map! There are several unmarked junctions along Art Loeb.

5 months ago

I love the diversity that this trail has to offer! It starts with a nice uphill climb up Old Butt Knob, as you work your way towards shining rock. The quartz boulders cannot be understated – they are phenomenal and must be seen in person! I didn’t stay past dark, but I hear that they glow for about an hour after sunset. How amazing! The hike back down from shining rock, we walked along the river and there was waterfall after waterfall after waterfall… It was spectacular! Two moderately athletic hikers finished this loop in about five hours.

5 months ago

Excellent, scenic tour of Shining Rock Wilderness. As another person noted, the footing can get tricky, so having poles would be helpful.

7 months ago

Awesome hike, beautiful views

10 months ago

This is a very beautiful hike. I did not do the full loop, but the best part is probably at the top of Tennent Mountain. Coming back at the Balsam it should have a spur trail back to the parking area. It is not marked and I missed it as many I talked to. It mush be the trail that go right before the rock outcropping. If somebody find it maybe a marker on the recording would be helpful.

11 months ago

There are several ups and downs along Art Loeb to Shining Rock, which is a pretty cool point of interest. Starting from end of Black Balsam Road, hike up trail to the right on the Art Loeb spur which takes you to open hills and a grassy area. The top of the first hill gives you the Sound of Music experience. Next is Black Balsam Knob, which is a higher hill. The trail is rocky and uneven with some trail erosion. From there you go down and then back up to the top of Tennent Mountain, past the intersection with Ivestor Gap Trail, then on to Grassy Cove Top and to another intersection with Ivestor Gap and Cold Mountain trails, then on to Shining Rock. The quartz is really white, giving it the shiny appearance. We took the Ivestors Trail back, which ended up being around 9 miles give or take. Nice hike, prepare for lots of sun as the underbrush on the knolls is short and also prepare for rocky uneven and overgrown areas. The views and Shining Rock provided great rewards for all the ups and downs totaling about 1300 ft.

Friday, July 21, 2017

I hiked a shorter version of the loop last month, making it out to the beginning of Shining Rock Wilderness and the area around Grassy Cove Top. The views, the terrain and the wildflowers were all spectacular. I hope I am lucky enough to return soon to complete the full loop to Shining Rock.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Does anyone have the coordinates of the spring on the AL near shining rock?

Monday, May 29, 2017

We started on the ALT from Black Balsam Road. The views from BBK and Tennet Mtn were spectacular. Some of the best that I have seen outside of the Great Smoky Mtns. We camped at Flower Gap. The stars were amazing. Shining Rock was pretty neat. We came back on the Ivestor Gap Trail. It was much easier than the ALT (lots of standing water) but not as scenic. Would definitely recommend this hike to others.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Great weekend/ overnight trail to enjoy nice and slow. It would also be a great trail to take friends or kids who have never been backpacking before. We went up the investor Gap trail and back down the Art Loeb. Once you get into the Shining Rock Wilderness, it does get confusing as there are trails that are unmarked and do not appear on any maps. When you get to the big intersection with the shining rock wilderness sign, keep walking past that sign to stay on the Investor Gap trail. This can be an easy place to get on the wrong trail, as there are more trails branching off than appear on the map. All in all a awesome hike with incredible views from Shining Rock at the turnaround point, As well at the two other 6000+ peaks you get to stand on. The views all along the trail are awesome too. Great hike, good distance, not too difficult. There are plenty of places to camp along the Art Loeb. All the water sources are on the investor Gap trail or up around Shining Rock.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Great wilderness area with spectacular views and summits. Did an overnight near the parking lot next to Sam's Knob. Parked at the trailhead of Art Loeb on Black Balsam Road the following morning and began hiking in sub 20 temps. Solid elevation gains and views along the way. Come prepared and have a map available! The trails get very confusing once you get past the Shining Rock Wilderness sign. Went down a wrong trail in whiteout conditions and had a very long hike back up. Great place for winter backpacking as long as you come prepared. The forest service could improve this area with more trail markers along the Art Loeb Trail.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A great loop. The best of the southern Appalachian highlands. Suggest you add on the Shining Creek-Old Butt Knob loop if you're out for a couple days. Lots of use in this area so expect many hikers and heavily used campsites in high seasons.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I started this by parking on the road (the first parking area on your right after turning off of the BR Parkway). The Art Loeb TH is visible right away so make sure you catch that and don't go too far right (this picks up a different rail). You break through the forest in about 10-20 minutes and the views begin immediately. Panoramic scenery of rolling green and blue hills. The Art Loeb trail summits Black Balsmam Knob and then Tennant (sp?). The trail splits multiple times but (I think!) that they come back together eventually, almost like it undulates until a main intersection with the Investor trail. These two intersect at about 3 points, 2 of which are very clear, large areas. A map definitely comes in handy but there are points where a faded map stand is posted. Camp spots are everywhere from the Black Balsam area on past the split for the Shining Rock Wilderness area (big wooden sign about an hours hike in). After the split to head to the Shining Rock area, you find yourself walking in the woods rather than shorter shrubbery/wildflowers as before. You come up to a sign for Cold Mntn and I (unfortunately) hung too far left and wound up on the Investor trail headed back the way I'd come, just on a much easier, flat surface with few views. So, bring a map... :) I walked this past the intersection with AL and decided to stay on Ivestor until near the end, where I took a sharp left for what would eventually put me back on the Balsam Knob area towards my car. Otherwise, the Investor goes on back to an actual parking lot area up the road from the first road side parking.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Night hiked to Black Balsam Knob Labor day weekend for star gazing and Milkyway. Absolutely fantastic with great view of the Milkyway. (make sure there is no moonlight)

Monday, September 05, 2016

The out portion of this trail was outstanding. Beautiful views all along the Art Loeb Trail. We hiked this trail on Labor Day weekend and the parking lot was full when we arrived at 10 am. There is parking along the road. There aren't any comparable views on the return along the Ivester Trail but the walk is much easier. Most of that is an old road bed with gentle slopes. Fwiw we expected to see some streams after seeing the pics that someone else had posted but we didn't. I'm not sure those pictures are from this trail. There is ample tent sites along the Art Loeb Trail with very nice views. Finding a spot to hammock will be more difficult.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The experience I had backpacking this trail easily makes my top 3 list. The scenery is top notch and greatly exceeds the work to see it. Countless vistas, wildflowers, fruit, and various wildlife create a wonderful experience. We were led to a "secret" campsite by a friendly backpacker that was simply amazing. Secluded and surrounded by wild blueberries on top of the mountain, it was one of the most unique campsites I've ever been to.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Beautiful views and vegetation. Water sources, however, are not plentiful, and the trails could be marked better.

Monday, May 30, 2016

bring your sunscreen

Friday, April 01, 2016

Great area.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

We combined this with a section of the Art Loeb trail to make it a loop- beautiful views on the way in but very foggy on the way out. Great place to spend a few days and the wild blueberries and blackberries were wonderful!

Friday, May 03, 2013

Started at Daniel Boone camp. The trail head is all the way in the back of the camp across from the river. Make sure you prepare for this hike. It is very strenuous! There is about 6 stream crossings as well. There is a nice camping area about 4 1/2 miles into the trail on the ridge. I do not however recommend camping there in the winter, the winds really suck! Great trail though!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hiked to there my dad was talking about shining rock for years so we went and loved it we are going back on the 4th of July to camp for a week

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Took the Art Loeb to Shining Rock! 6 hour rd trip but I think we got off the trail a few times. Great payoff with views from Shining Rock, highly recommend! Challenging this can be though, take a map!

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