Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Canton with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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.

fishing
8 days ago

Good fishing. Rough trail not marked well but won’t get you lost.

backpacking
13 days ago

6/30/18-7/1/18 WOW! This was our first backpacking trip. Amazing hike! Loved how the first 5 miles and last 5 miles were along rivers! We loved it...and so did our white German Shepherd pup! Even though the weather called for some storms, it only rained at night while in our tent. It was very cloudy in some areas, but do not be fooled! Those foggy clouds move quickly! What looked to be a cloud covered evening turned into a beautiful sunset and sunrise the next morning! Same up by Tennent Mountain...cloudy but within 5 minutes it cleared! Before I get to my tips and tricks, I just want to say I’d do this exact same route again someday. Loved it and worth it!

Tips:
*download this app so you can track where you are while offline! Not all the trails are clearly marked. We added a couple miles after going the wrong way. And we ended up veering off Mountain To Sea Trail onto the graveyard trail ... which ended up meeting back up with mountain to sea eventually, but that part was very confusing. If you have this app and look at where you are shortly after each fork, you will be fine...we happened not to look early enough on this turn.
(Grab a trail map at the very least! There is a Pisgah National Forest Ranger station you can go to prior to getting to the hiking place...google map it)
*keep phone in airplane mode and bring an extra battery pack and the correct cord hookup for your phone-we took pictures and ran out of battery at the last 5 miles where the pigeon river is so amazing! (Plus Bridges Camp Gap Trail can be tricky)
*Bring hiking poles. Our $20 amazon ones worked great! We are athletic people and couldn’t imagine doing this without poles. So much better on your joints
*bear canisters required-rented one at Pura Vida Adventures Pisgah Forest NC. Keep it in some brush ~100 yards from tent...eat there too
*Want to see black bears? Keep very quiet. Don’t want to see black bears? Clank poles together here and there and sing a song. We saw none (I didn’t want to see any our first trip! But people along the trails did see them. Don’t eat by or in your tent, don’t feed bears, bury your poop, because even if you don’t see a bear, don’t let there be a chance your area attracts bears for the next people. I also carried some bear spray.
*Don’t watch the Netflix movie “Backcountry” before going. ;)

*Start on Shining Creek path and end on Big East Fork. Wouldn’t want to go the other way -easier to climb up fast than the other way around!
*Watch your river-fill up before the ridge (around 4 miles in! Water is scarce till getting past the ridge. On map it looks like you cross the water a few times at the end of Shining Creek but those water sources are much less ... it’s not a true river site.
*we used Sawyer filters off amazon-took 6 normal plastic water bottles plus the 2 pouches that cane with our two sawyer filters. (Keep a couple designated clean bottles and just keep pouring the bottles into the pouches and squeezing them into the clean ones.
*at 6.2 miles you’ll see the Shining Rock Wilderness sign by a meadow. Many camp areas up that way ... some not covered, some up by the woods. There were 5 other couples up that way. Beautiful sunset and sunrise there! We stayed by the trees because we heard the wind and rain can get crazy if rain is called for up there-and it was, but the couple in the meadow were alright.
*we left late but wanted to make it to 8miles...there was another place to camp by there but not a bunch of options like at 6.2miles.
*We went on the wrong trail for about a mile and turned around to go on the correct trail up to black balsam...if you aren’t going up for a while check where you are!
*off the ridge, where Mountain To Sea Trail starts, there was a forest with big White Dots on some trees or rocks helping you keep course.
*Like I said we someone ended up on the graveyard trail which met up with Mountain To Sea so it was ok, but that was very confusing.
*after Mountain To Sea comes Bridges Gap Trail. Our phones died and this trail leads you right down to a large boulder on the river! That must be the Gap ha! You have to walk down the boulder (for us a large tree trunk was sticking out where the trail continued) but you have to walk to the boulder a ways to see where the trail continues (it’s on the same side of the river)
*THEN you ARE ON BIG EAST FORK. We saw no sign that said we were suddenly on Big East Fork! It was a beautiful hike by the Pigeon River! Places to camp and swim here as well.

I think we were somehow at Skinny Dip Falls (not sure) where there were a lot of people swimming. There’s a bridge you cross that us pretty high up..watch your dog.

Hope this helps and does not deter!! It truly is SPECTACULAR!

Easily the best loop trail in the local AVL area...no wonder everyone wants to keep it a secret. The biodiversity is simply amazing! Starting out at Black Balsam Road you turn onto the Art Loeb Trail and hike through the blueberry bushes and begin the arduous crawl up to the summit of Black Balsam...it’s very windy but great 360 degree views are fantastic! Take the ridge across the grass (numerous great places to camp) into Greasy Fields and the rhododendrons forests! Cross over and down the mountain to a gorgeous waterfall in the gap and two creek crossings eventually making it up to Sliding Rock. Take the trail back up into Graveyard Ridge before taking the optional MST to make the day long hike extra amazing!!!

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!

Hiked May 30-May 31 after and during intense rain. Trails here have the tendency to become gushing streams, and the Ivestor Gap trail and Art Loeb section between Flower gap and Cold mountain were both flooded for significant parts of the trail. We turned back after Flower Gap after conditions worsened. That being said, it was quite deserted and extremely scenic! Hope to be back in drier weather

I did this one on June 2, 2018. There was plenty of water (I filtered), including a spring close to the summit, but it has been quite rainy this Spring so your mileage may vary.

It's tougher on the way down than it is up. I made it up in three hours, including longish stops to drink and filter water. Coming down, the ligaments in my knees hurt bleddy awful.

I got on the trail about 8 a.m. and there was no one there. By the time I got back around 2 p.m., cars were lining the road.

I'm going back to do it again when the leaves are off the trees.

Hiked Black Balsam Road to Shining Rock, then to Cold Mountain along the narrow ridge, after two weeks of rain. Many flowing water sources with streams down the trail and several ponds in the trail. I did my best to keep my feet dry. I gave up on the Ivestor Trail on the way back. Saw a clump of 12 Pink Ladies Slippers, a few trilliums, bristly locust and Chicken of the Woods mushroom past Shining Rock. As said in other reviews, beautiful views, especially at sunset. When I was at Cold Mountain, I wished I had a car at the Boy Scout Camp, for a 4 mile hike to the car, instead of almost 10 miles back to Black Balsom Road.

Awesome even in the rain!!!

literally my favorite ever. there's absolutely nothing negative thoughts say about this one.

hiking
2 months ago

Good trail not marked at all and a lot of side trails

Good hike with varied scenery. Spectacular views on the ridge.
Heavy traffic along the bald around Black Balsam and around the falls in the valley (due to parking areas).
Lots of areas to camp past the falls just before you go back into the Wilderness Area.
The river is spectacular. Lots of places to swim.

Recommendations:
Replenish water just before the Shining Creek Path ends (When you get into the pine trees after about 4.5 miles look for water. It is shown on the map). Very little water on ridge line (there is some). Plenty of places to get water from Black Balsam onwards. There were no bugs in Apr/May.
Loop the direction of the Shining Creek Path being the first day. A little strenuous but better than going the opposite way. A good two night trip if you want to take your time. Can easily be an overnight trip.
Detour up to Shining rock - the view is worth it.

I would consider this a relatively well used trail. Definitely saw a fair amount of people hiking and camping even though the weather called for an overnight storm.

backpacking
3 months ago

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

Start to finish
One day hike. Is rough

This is a great hike! The leaves aren't on the tress yet so you get some awesome views that won't be there in the Summer. Definitely a heart pumper and several rock gardens along the way. The views from the top are incredible and well worth the hike.

backpacking
3 months ago

We did this loop over 4 days 3 nights it was a nice easy rewarding trip. Hitting some of the best sections of the art loeb. Navigating was not to difficult, some sections are not marked at all. MTS section of course was well marked. Graveyard fields were closed to camping due to bear activity. So we avoided staying near that area. Bear canister is required and spray is recommended.

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

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.

backpacking
4 months ago

Did this as a 2 night backpacking trip. Well established trail but NOT marked. Tough, rocky terrain that can be slippery after rain but elevation gain isn’t bad. We had intended to continue on to Greasy Cove Trail and loop around Shining Creek Path back to the trailhead but we could not find the trail after 2 hours so we made an out and back of Big East Fork.

All in all a good first time trip for this novice backpacker. Campsites were nice and flat with easy access to the creek for water.

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.

Kevin, email me caronj@gmail.com

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

This is more of an inquiry as myself and a few friends would like to plan this hike in June, but reading reviews causes some concern. We are in pretty good shape and have hiking experience, but don't wish to get lost for hours. Anyways, I think that we would be willing to hire someone who has made this trek and could guide us to the summit. If anyone can offer some insights and suggestion, I would be most appreciative.
I have a vacation home in Asheville and used to live there, and actually tested the hike for a half mile or so out of Canton, so have some insight. Looking at second weekend in June. Thanks, Kevin

Great hike, beautiful sunsets!!!

I really enjoyed this loop. The forecast was calling for Armageddon, but it ended up only coming down the morning of our last night. It’s a tough hike with a good balance of gains and losses. If you camp at Shining Rock Gap there’s a spring on the left of the trail as you head south on Art Loeb. If you hike up Cold Mountain there’s a PVC pipe sticking out of the side of the mountain about 0.75 miles up. And I’m super stoked that I wasn’t murdered by a bear or blown off the mountain while I slept. If I did this trip again I’d probably plan on camping at Shining Rock Gap for the first night and Deep Gap for the second where campsites are established and water sources are close by. All in all it was a good trip. If you feel so inclined, you can read more about my trip at: http://bit.ly/coldmtnloop

Awesome hike, beautiful views

12/15/17 it’s still heavy covered in snow. There were tracks in the snow up until the split, then it was guessing my way in the snow for the remaining 1.4 miles to the top. I’d recommend wearing gaiters or snowshoes. Much of the trail had 6-12”. +12” near the top made it a difficult hike. Tough hike in general. 3 hrs up and about 2 1/2 on the way down. Great hike, especially doing it in the snow!

If you like solitude this is the trail for you. The trail is very primitive and hard to follow at some points. There are no markings for the trail nor is there a sign for the trailhead. The trailhead is exactly where this app says it is, it just takes a little exploring on the other side of the stream. Tough hike but the views and solitude are well worth it.

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.

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