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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Great trail. Hiked to flower gap from shining creek trail head on night one. Then found a spot along the Yellowstone prong on MTS trail night two.

Loved this hike! Did it yesterday 11/3 and the colors were beautiful. It took us about 7 hours to carefully navigate which included a 30 stay at the summit where the views were absolutely stunning. Not an easy hike but well worth the effort.

Loved it a fun loop to hike.

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike, but not for the beginner! Difficult hike, not marked well. Many obstacles to navigate (downed trees, streams, boulders, etc.). Give yourself at least 6 hours. Wonderful views at the summit. Several streams for water, and a spring near the top.

We didnt do the full trail. But great place to see some cute creeks, streams and swimming holes in the summer. Also great place to see leaves.

trail running
7 months ago

super fun trail!!! love it!

Just stumbled on this site and wanted to relate a story I've had online for some years about a dog who helped me home along this very strenuous, very rewarding trail. 15 years ago we didn't have Internet resources so I picked this particular weekend's adventure not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into. It was quite the adventure and definitely one for the books.
http://www.jasonscottrushing.com/1thing/index_files/Page597.htm

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.

I love this hike! It's not easy at all. I just went yesterday 9/13/17 and if you go soon there are a lot of downed trees and debris from recent storms and the trail was very hard to read in some areas. I don't think this trail is well blazed compared to other trails and this is the first trail I ever got lost on but that didn't happen yesterday thank goodness! The view at the top is so worth the climb but this is not a trail for people who don't hike, who barely hike, or who are remotely out of shape. Oh and it's not 9.9 miles, it's 10.6. Like it matters that close but when the weather changes on you and you are cold, wet, and tired...even an extra tenth of a mile seems like a lifetime!

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.

The nearly 4 mile trudge up the ALT from Daniel Boone is rocky....and spooky - very little sun penetrates its thick canopy up to Deep Gap. The CMT spurs to the left with a fairly vigorous 1.4 mile ascent. There are several nice camping spots on the dog leg eastward toward the summit. The top provides a dramatic southward view of the SRW and the route which continues ahead. Its a straight shot from the CMT back to the ALT returning through Deep Gap. The trail becomes brushy and soon ascends up to the rocky Narrows - a pretty demanding climb after the rigors of Cold Mountain. While this section is indeed a narrow path up and down the ridge, most of the viewing is obstructed, save for two cleared spots -one to the east and one to the west. Leaving the Narrows, the ALT continues to climb for another mile then widens and levels as it arrives at Shining Rock Gap. Here, take a convenient, but well deserved side jump onto the summit of the gap's namesake. Ivestor Gap Trail continues the loop southward. After a short 1/4 mile, the Little East Fork Trail branches off to the right, actually paralleling the IGT for a good while. Not a lot of traffic goes through the north end of this trail - pretty brushy, but easy to follow. It gently descends for 2.5 miles until it reaches the Little East Fork Creek. Once crossing it, the trail broadens as it follows the creek for another 2.5 miles back to the scout camp. This last section is far more popular - very reminiscent to both the Big Creek and Deep Creek trails in the Smokies. Water is easily available only on the ascent up to Deep Gap and the descent down to and along the Little East Fork. This loop served well as a long day's workout. Unlike some of the other routes I've done in the Shining Rock / Middle Prong wildernesses, all trails are pretty straight forward and each junctions is obvious.

If you want a 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this is a great hike....and you don't have to go too far or work too hard to get it! We only walked about a mile and we had spectacular views. I do think if you wanted to go farther, you should have a compass and a map as this is a wilderness area and signage is minimal. But it is lovely!

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