Explore the most popular river 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.

We attempted this loop last winter. After reading how much work, and not a lot of payoff the Old butt knob portion was, we decided to take the Shining Creek Path up to the Art Loeb trail, and finish the loop back from there. First off, either way you cut it, that trail was absolutely NO JOKE. As a pretty seasoned hiker and recent Army vet with tons of rugged terrain and rucking under my belt, that first stretch to the Art Loeb absolutely destroyed us. We had every intention of taking 2 1/2 days and doing the full loop, after the 1st day of getting my butt handed to me from almost sun-up to sun-down, we decided to turn around and call the trip early and hiked back down and out the next day. Will not be attempting this one again without better conditioning.

hiking
4 days ago

I don’t know what kind of joke y’all are trying to play but this trial isn’t easy or moderate. This trail is one that you have to be an expert hiker in order to climb it. Not to mention the directions in order to get there are terrible...cause there are none. Best of luck to whoever attempts this trial.

camping
16 days ago

Well a couple having sex at top and angry Yellowjackets coming back down. What else can you say about a trail that makes someone’s heart pound in so many ways.

Really pretty and short - but definitely moderate (not easy) hike between the climb on the way back and the uneven surfaces. We were mostly alone mid afternoon on a Friday, but as we left we passed at least a bakers dozen of college students on their way in with (open on the trail) cheap beer, so perhaps less delightful late in the day on a Friday!

not easy. 1/2 mile but either up or down, no flat.

1 month ago

Fun little trail, very rocky as to be expected. Nice and scenic swimming area at the end. Fun but very, very crowded.

walking
1 month ago

This is a pretty easy trail. Not thing special to look at, but has a cute swimming hole at the end. It is ALWAYS CROWDED. We used to go swimming here 20 years ago before it became a thing in any guide books and there really wasn’t a trail to follow. But we skip it now because it’s just not big enough for the crowds.

hiking
1 month ago

The second half of the hike is pretty strenuous to the top of Sam Knob. But it sure is beautiful up there. Best when the fall colors are out. Don’t go if it’s been raining because the trail is muddy, narrow, and drops off the side of the mountain in many places. There’s lots of rocks to climb over and many small ones in the path and it can be treacherous even when it dry. Of course like all our beautiful spots here have become in the past 10 years, it’s over crowded all the time.

hiking
1 month ago

A nice short hike. Parking seems crowded, but as long as you park off the side of the pavement near the designated hard-top parking spaces, you’ll be fine.

The view from the top is superb, and it’s particularly great if you’re the only one up there, especially for a nap on the rocks in the sun. (But beware of snakes with similar ideas.)

Not a trail for hammocks because it’s pretty narrow most of the way, but super if you want to test a rookie’s pace and stamina with moderate hiking in less than an hour.

A most excellent adventure. We did the one way hike from Black Balsam to NC 215. Easy trail with lots of places to get my paws and fur wet. Trail was in good shape. Only one big mud puddle to navigate around. Lots of four legged friends to play with along the way.

hiking
2 months ago

Really enjoyed the hike to the falls. The trail is gorgeous, and the "obstacles" walking in and around rocks and tree roots made it interesting. Definitely not difficult, since we saw many people with young children during the hike. Took our two Chihuahuas along and they had no problem with the terrain. The falls at the end made the hike well worth it.

hiking
2 months ago

I hiked this trail last year and the hike is short but the end with the views are beautiful.

Wife and I walked this trail today and it went to the top of our favorites list. Gradual incline which I love and lots of water features for her. Some nice camping sites for future use, and tons of blackberries for the picking. Very light traffic (6 folks and 3 dogs) besides us. This is a trail you can take friends and family to no matter what their hiking experience level. We'll be back.

Old Butt Knob? More like Old Ass Knob. Literally and figuratively. All the little whoas saying this trail was great literally need to go to the doctor because they are still delusional from the exhaustion this trail induced. This trail is actually utter ass and disappointment, with 2 miles of the most grueling ascent I’ve ever seen and no payoff for it what so ever. Just my opinion tho, this was day 3 of a 40 mile hike and was quite possibly the worst thing to come across after the exhaustion I was already under. Old Ass Knob, you will not be missed, This is a warning to anyone that has any sense at all, except the trail joggers, by all means trip and fall

2 months ago

Easy. Nice clear water swimming hole

hiking
2 months ago

Oh my gosh of my favorite falls thus far. So gorgeous. Hike isn’t bad.

hiking
2 months ago

Loved the water fall. Was so much fun!!

3 months ago

A moderate hike but still a nice place to stretch my paws.   

We've had a lot of rain this spring and summer.   Consequently the trail was a little muddy and slightly overgrown.  Still a nice walk to a panoramic view at the top with cell service.  For my two legged friends who don't live in these parts, cell service should never be taken for granted.  Download before you go.

My nose must have been off on Tuesday, I couldn't find a waterfall.   Is it on a connecting trail?

Four woofs for the view.  

3 months ago

Swiming hole!!! Much more private than Graveyard Fields just up the road.

An easy hike over a well maintained trail. Easy parking. A must stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Despite the name, wear your fur. Otherwise there might be pointing, giggling, and shrinkage.

Five woofs!

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
3 months ago

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

hiking
3 months ago

Shady trail and nice enough but no great views as you go along. Agree it’s is easy for anyone that can go up and down hills. The real attraction is the falls at the end. Very pretty. The swimming hole is family-friendly and crowded at midday.

hiking
3 months ago

Short hike. Again fair amount of people there on a hot day... but definitely not crowded. Bring some water shoes and don’t be afraid to get wet.

backpacking
3 months 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!

Super easy hike to awesome (small) waterfall and swimming hole. It is extremely busy on nice weekends so get there early to beat the crowds!

Great hike with the family! Climb is super gradual and full of incredible natural sights and waterfalls. The top makes a great picnic spot or even camping spot. Will definitely be back and even go further on the trail.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful falls with a lot of swim holes on up the falls if you want to do a little climbing to find them. We got there about 9:30 (Mon 7/2/18) and it wasn’t crowded, but it was getting pretty packed by the time we left. The water was definitely refreshing!! Great short hike off the parkway.

hiking
3 months ago

Was a nice little hike. We went late morning when it was not crowded. We took our senior dog, but the trail consisted of too many steps for her to be comfortable. The falls and swimming hole were very scenic. Parking at the outlook across the road made it simple. Had a great simple hike, we recommend going!

hiking
3 months ago

My son and I had a great time hiking this trail. It is marked as moderate but it is an easy hike. The only thing I can think of that may be difficult for some people are the rocky parts.

3 months ago

super easy walk to the falls. beautiful and COLD! went around 5pm. there was a good amount of people there

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