Shining Rock Wilderness Trail

HARD 26 reviews

Shining Rock Wilderness Trail is a 9.3 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Canton, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, camping, and birding and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

9.3 miles
2,910 feet

dogs on leash








wild flowers

1 month ago

I have done this three times, all going up to Old Butt and Dog Loser Knob and coming back down the creek. The ascent is very steep, do not attempt on very hot days or late in the day. I think the navigation is better in this direction but you have to pay attention on the ridge and in the area around Shining Rock. You need a GPS to attempt this hike. Last year we did this in May when the rhododendrons were out. Fabulous. This is a Wilderness area and there are no signs except one off the summit to mark the way down Shining Rock Creek. One of my favourites

5 months ago

Take this COUNTER-clockwise to minimize trail loss on the infuriatingly vague relentless Southern ascent, the crazy labyrinth of squirrel runs trying to find Shiny Rock, and the super slippy descent through Hobbit sized openings in the brush.

6 months ago

I attempted this trail once before but started too late and took the way to the right and realized i would not make t before dark. It’s not safe to do this in the dark as some areas require a bit of rock climbing. We did this hike again in the winter, one of the warmer days. It’s was a difficult hike but fun. I didn’t do a loop and came down the same way I came up. My nephew as cousin took the way to the right and did the loop. The trail is not well marked or always seen so got lost a few time. It was fun but probably will not do it again.

7 months ago

We started and took shining Creek and had planned on coming back old butt. However the trail is NOT 3.4 miles, as it states on the map. It is more close to 6 miles one way so be prepared. It was getting dark on us so We came back out the same way We went in and do not get to do old butt. This trail was very pretty with lots of water Cascades. We tracked The trail to be around 12.5 round trip. The trail is NOT marked and is very confusing to what is and is not the trail. This trail even with a map would be super easy to get lost. we ran into other hikers and they were just as confused as we were and some had done the trail before. It would be nice if they could have some small makers at least on some of the places.

9 months ago

My wife and I did this loop in November of ‘17 heading up Shining Creek first (this is the direction I would go). This hike is rated hard and it holds true to that category. It starts out mellow but increases in intensity as you get closer to the summit. I am a fit guy who runs 5 miles a day so while it was tough I enjoyed the challenge. This is NOT a hike you should take a less physical or inexperienced person on... like I did with my wife. It could easily be done in one day if you're up for it and can move quickly. However this is a great hike that you can stretch into 2 or 3 days. There are a few scattered campsites that have been previously occupied along Shining Creek so finding a place to stop is not an issue. Also, there is plenty of access to the creek itself for water or to just relax. Shining Creek doesn't offer much to view other than the peaks above you, a lot of fauna and some large boulders. It is best to take a GPS and a map as this trail is NOT marked at all and some sections are very difficult to see the trail. We even took a few wrong "paths" and we weren't the only ones. We did run into a few people most of whom were day hiking. The water falls along Shining creek are small but they are there and still nice to look at.
Once you reach the summit and hit the Art Loeb there are TONS of camping options and beautiful views. It's definitely worth hiking down the AL for about 5 mins (away from Shining Rock) as there are few clearings with great panoramic views. If you look closely enough along the AL in both directions you can see some slightly worn paths. If you take these through the brush/trees they open up into some amazing and hidden places to camp. The spur/hike up to Shining rock is well worth the 360 degree view. Camping at the summit can get windy at night but it's not too bad. There were several other groups camping when we arrived so it made for a lot of fun meeting others. The summit makes a great place to set up a base camp for a few days so you can to hike to cold mountain, down the Art Loeb towards the knobs or Shining Rock itself. Just down the AL towards the knobs/Black Balsam there is a small spring that provides plenty of water.
The hike towards Old Butt Knob can be VERY confusing as there a lot of small trails that go out to more hidden campsites so if you stick to the most worn path you should be OK. The path that takes you to OBN at Shining rock is also a bit confusing but again stick to the most worn and you will eventually find where you need to be. Just past Shining rock and when you start on OBN there are some more hidden trails and beautiful campsites, especially for those in hammocks. Before you really start descending you will hit a few peaks and some beautiful changes in fauna. Like Shining Creek there are campsites along the trail and some have a decent view but there is no access to water until you reach the bottom at Shining Creek. Keep a close eye out for some small hidden trails off to the side. These lead to some beautiful overlooks where you can get some good photos. Once you start heading down back towards Shining Creek there are virtually no places to camp. Be warned that going down OBN is very tricky and at times you will be sliding down drop offs on your butt (no pun intended). Having a set of poles really pays off here. The beginning isn't too bad but once you reach a certain point it drops off quickly and stays that way for a while. You will hit switchbacks and drop offs for a mile or two.
Overall this is a very rewarding and worthwhile hike. Making it a few overnights is also worth it. Remember that there are no fires allowed but you will see where people have either built a fire or built a fire ring. So you can build a fire but you run the risk of a fine from the rangers who did come through our campsite on the second night. Also a bear proof canister is required though many just hung their packs or bags of food. This year alone many have had their packs stolen by a mom and her cub that have been hanging around so a canister is well worth the weight and bulk.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Very rewarding but challenging hike! Started our hike in the afternoon and got to the top of shining rock at Sunset! Then we headed back and camped at the base of the trail. Would not recommend starting in the afternoon like we did as we did not get back to our camp till the early morning hours (but totally worth it) Easy to get lost so make sure you have a map or someone who is familiar with the trail with you!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Shining rock creek gets a 5 star. Old butt trail sucked so hard. Tips: don't do old butt, there's some really nice off trail camping near the beginning of shining creek. Old butt has tons of cob webs too, so much I had to wear a bug net and I've only ever used that thing twice ever. It was too unbearable. Whatever you do, don't ascend old butt trail either, it's extremely steep. Like straight climbing steep. The paths are also not well kept either and theres like maybe two scenic views on the entire trail. As for shining rock creek, I loved it. So many springs, rapids, waterfalls, and basins where you can swim or dip your feet. It's extremely humid in there though. If you are adamant about doing the entire loop, at the intersection take a right when you leave shining rock creek, then go straight, then at a rock clearing with some tall trees go right up the hill and you'll find old butt trail. Don't follow signs for cold mountain. Again though, I highly recommend you just stay on shining creek trail, just omit old butt because it sucks. One of the worst trails I've ever been on and I hike and backpack every weekend.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Shining creek trail is a great trail following the river the entire way up the mountain. lots of little falls and good pictures.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

I did this full loop a few years back, going up the Shining Creek Trail and back down Old Butt. Nice hike up along a very pretty river. Fun to start from a strong-flowing river all the way uphill to where it begins as a seep. Trail is in good condition, with lots of stead climbing.

At the time I took this hike, it was very easy to get lost at Shining Rock Gap at the top, but they have since added a few signs (in spite of it being a wilderness area) that make it easier to find the trail.

Old Butt was very very rough coming down, and I would not advise going up it, unless you know what you are getting into. I had my dog with me, and I had to help him down many of the very steep sections.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Great hike, the views were amazing. Trail is confusing in places especially in the forest. We ordered a map from the forest service, worth every cent. I would not attempt this without a map.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Took an excellent trip up to Shining Rock & had a great time. Hit the Artlobe trail to the top of Shining Rock and also walked to the Upper Falls. BEAUTIFUL AREA. Be aware that it is bear country though. This time of year there are TONS of blueberries and blackberries to pick. Be sure to bring a map as well.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Just scraped the surface. but what I saw was beautiful. can't wait to go back when I have time

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It really is wilderness. Be careful people get lost here every year.

10 months ago

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sunday, June 04, 2017

recorded Rain & Pain

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Saturday, September 20, 2014