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

Ecusta, North Carolina Map
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backpacking
19 days ago

Backpacked with 2 buddies October 2018. Camped on what I think was black balsam knob. Beautiful scenery. Most of what we read said there was no water which is true once you get above the forest but there are many options for about the first 4-5 miles of the trail through the woods. You might consider not carrying the extra weight until you have to. All in all a great hike. Will go again sometime.

backpacking
20 days ago

Started the Art Loeb Trail at Davidson River on 11/23/3018 and ended at Daniel Boone on 11/25/2018.

MY EXPERIENCE
My friend and I completed the trail in 3 days.
- Day 1 (12 miles): The entire 12 miles was in the forest with NO views - at least no views were worth the exhaustion. We passed many great campsites along the way, but we ended up having to camp near a road, because the sun was about to set by the time we reached 12 miles.
- Day 2 (8 miles): The second day consisted of 8 miles of torture with the first lookout view of the trip. We trekked through a variety of terrain and ended at Black Balsam. For about 90% of the day, I questioned why I agreed to go on the backpack. There are periods where you just keep going up, and you think that you can't go any higher, but you make a turn and go up some more.
- Day 3 (11 miles): The third day consisted of a moderate 11 miles. This was the best day - beautiful scenery and relatively easy hike (compared to the first 20 miles). We hiked a variety of terrain, and I enjoyed the majority of the last day. There's about 1 mile of steep, rocky uphill, but other than that the trail is easy/moderate. Watch out for the last 4 miles of downhill - it's "easy" because it's downhill, but it really messes with your knees.

RECOMMENDATIONS / TIPS
General Tips:
- If you don't care about finishing the entire trail and just want some good views, I would recommend skipping the entire first 20 miles of the Davidson to Daniel Boone route. Instead, make it a 2-day out-and-back backpack by parking at Daniel Boone and hike around 11 miles toward Davidson until you reach the final bald, then turn back. If you want a relaxed 3-day backpack, add in a stop near Cold Mountain the first or second night.
- Have GPS or a map/compass. It gets confusing in the Shining Rock Wilderness.
- Bring trekking poles - especially in fall when there's a probability of ice on the trail. I would have busted my head open and injured myself severely if I hadn't brought my trekking poles.
- Water was abundant between Cold Mountain and Daniel Boone. Other parts of the trail, we had a decent number of water sources due to recent rain, but I could see many of them drying up. Jump on any water source you can and carry enough water to drink/cook for the day.
- It was EXTREMELY windy on Black Balsam the evening we arrived (but no wind the next morning). If it's windy, set up camp before you reach the top, walk down the side-trails from the bald and find a site that blocks more of the wind, or go an extra 1-2 miles to find another campsite.
- Cover up for the Shining Rock Wilderness portion. The trail was pretty overgrown, and I would be extremely concerned about ticks in the warmer months.
Mileage Specific Tips: If you plan to follow my itinerary, the following tips may be useful
- The nearest campsites to mile 12 were around mile 10-11 and 13-14
- The nearest reliable water source to mile 12 was at the shelter at mile 9. Have fun carrying up the water.

hiking
27 days ago

Great trail Black Balsam was beautiful this weekend! The plaque for the trail was missing though

hiking
28 days ago

Decent small hike to take an inexperienced hiker or children on. The wooden trails have metal netting on them to help prevent slipping. There is also a cool little rope bridge you cross. Not the most scenic hike. Did this with a 3 and 6 year old no issues.

hiking
2 months ago

Wow! What a freaking smoker! Very difficult terrain but worth the views! We went North to South which looks to be much easier that going South to North. A lot of fantastic views once you get to the balds. The balds will be crowded also since there is a parking lot at the base. Definitely have to check this one off your list. And yes, when it says it is one of the more difficult trails, they are not exaggerating!

on Andy Cove Trail

hiking
2 months ago

Great lil trail off of Hwy 276, just behind the visitor center. It feels like your walking in a tree house and the suspension bridge is pretty cool too. Wish the trail was longer... I did a few loops to to lengthen up though.

backpacking
2 months ago

Wow is all I can say. The trail is amazing. The views are amazing. The signage is horrible. You can easily got lost EVEN with a map. We did 12 miles the first day from the Boy Scout camp. It was awesome with amazing views and it was work. The second day following the same blazes we ended up on the mst waaaaaay off course. So off course there was no way to backtrack and regroup we ended up taking to the road and hitchhiking. Luckily I found a couple at devils courthouse and offered them $50 to give me a ride to Davidson river trail head and they said yes. I would have paid $100 lol. Beware even with a map. We had 2. There are so many social trails and other trails that come off it and most are NOT marked.

4 months ago

There and back again! In an effort to answer the question that has plagued scientists for millennia (how is it possible that the art loeb is uphill all the way both ways?) I did this trail as an out and back. I do not have an answer to the question but I can confirm that it is, in fact, all up hill both ways. Seriously though, this is such a great trail and has a different feel depending on which way you take it. Whether you do it as two separate hikes or do it all at once, I highly recommend doing it both ways. I prefer the south to north route as you end with all the beautiful views and more isolated portions of the trail (cold mountain is well worth the detour) — a great reward after a tough hike. Regarding gear I can just say that this is one trail that is made easier with a lighter pack. Really consider what you need to bring and why? Is there anything you can leave behind? Could you get by with a lighter pack? A tarp instead of a tent? Lighter cooking gear? There are so many purveyors or ultralight gear these days — if you hike and camp a lot it is well worth the investment to transition your gear as you can over time. I did this 60 miles in 2 days with a 12 pound pack. Hiked from Davidson river to Daniel Boone and then back up to the base of cold mountain (34 miles) on day one and then back to Davidson River on day 2 (26 miles). Having done it in more time with a heavier pack I can tell you that the lighter pack makes all the difference in the world, particularly in some of the more technical sections of the hike. Do be aware of water sources as you go. Water becomes more limited as the summer get on and particularly between the shelters and shining rock water can be very limited. There is a reliable spring just past shining rock heading towards the narrows and it’s worth getting water there whichever direction you are heading in. There is beautiful camping all along the trail but also remember that if you are camping above the blue ridge, current regulations require a bear canister. You will likely see more signs of bear activity than actual bears but they are around. All of the bears I have seen in the area have been timid and turned tail as soon as they saw me. Just part of the deal. Whatever you do and however you do this hike, just enjoy it!

backpacking
4 months ago

Great hike but definitely a killer... started at the Boy Scout Camp and ended at Davidson. I read this was the easier way to go however, don’t let the word “easy” fool you, it’s still very challenging. There were a couple tricky spots because of the unmarked trails just pay attention to your compass and map to be sure you’re heading in the right direction. We did this hike in 2 and a half days, our thighs were burning at the end from all of the ups and downs. Fantastic views in the Balsam knob area, unfortunately it started storming for us so we had to get out of there. There are a couple fire pits up there in that area, highly recommend snagging one of those if possible. Absolutely no coverage whatsoever so only plan to stay there if you know it’s not going to storm!! Bummed we didn’t get that opportunity because the sky would have been wicked to look at from there. Overall great hike, definitely worth it!

Extremely fun! Very hard terrain. I accomplished this trail solo in less than 46 hours. Starting at the actual trail head and finishing at the Daniel Boone camp...awesome trail but is very very difficult and would not recommend to a beginner.

backpacking
5 months ago

Hiked end of June, 2018 with friends and two dogs. Having hiked a fair amount in Western North Carolina, there is no better hike that captures such a wide range of terrain. We hiked South to North, from Davidson River Campground to Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp and completed in 3 full days. Dropped a car the night before at Boy Scout Camp and stayed in Etowah at Etowah Valley Golf (dog friendly). Glad we decided to take 3 days. There are so many spots with amazing views (especially day 2) that you simply don’t want to rush past. Plan to spend at least an hour at Black Balsam. Get a map and check your GPS from time to time. We got on a side trail twice on the final day. The second time, at the Cold Mountain spur trail, be sure to keep left. The trail follows the ridge. Blazes (white) south to north are few and far between. I don’t remember seeing any in the shining rock wilderness area.

hiking
5 months ago

Sean there is no clear water along the way you must filter water we use a sawyer filter, i just did it in 2 days back packing 35 pound pack, We did south to north and we moved fast. It rained a ton so that made water finding easy but it filled our boots and made the rock hard to walk on.. There was a ton of places for water. The hard place was 4 miles before crossing the blue ridge to Black Balsam and about 4 miles after that peak around shining rock. it was over 32 miles one way and can be very hard at times . The climb up to the blue ridge was hard and just keep going and going plan for 1.5 MPH at the hard point with a pack. Everyone said there were a ton of bears out. Plan for 3 days, if it does not rain keep an eye on water they can dry up fast . I would keep a min 32 oz at all times so fill up the 3L when you can. we ended up do around 38 miles due to a side trail we did.

5 months ago

I didn’t go yet. But I heard this is a awesome trail, so Interesting about it and planning to go.
First the all I want ask anyone know has clean water source along the trail?
Second I don’t want go by myself, just in case for safety, anyone else planning go to this trail, can we go together? Be a partner for each other?
Thanks!

hiking
6 months ago

This is a nice short trail with some interesting features. You climb some stairs and there’s some curved bridges around ridges. Fairly early on there is a bouncy suspension bridge the kids loved. It’s an easy and interesting trail with lots of mushrooms and a few changes in elevation so it never gets boring. Park at ranger station and cross the street and it’s right there!

Not sure where the actual trail was to the waterfall. I only found a state road leading to private property. GPS did not find this location and neither did I.

hiking
6 months ago

This is a hard hike! If anyone tell you any different then you should doubt them. We started at the Camp Daniel Boone (BSA) and headed south. I was careful to mark and photograph the true water sources for those that wish to use this data. We hiked 8 miles and spent the night. We finished the hike the next day at the Black Balsam parking lot. It was a good 12 miles total and several 6k peaks. Study a map and plan well. This is a tough hike with great rewards and physical challenges.

Nice waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest. The trail is not very difficult and well worth a hike.

hiking
7 months ago

Great trail! Pack light and enjoy this hike. Each section has its own feel and challenges. Spurs to shining rock and cold mountain are well worth the time and effort. Evenings still cool so prepare accordingly if you are going soon. Once your at elevation the wind can be a factor at night so keep an eye on that as you plan your hike. Check my recording for campsites and springs/water sources.

backpacking
8 months ago

Just got off the trail a few days ago, and it was awesome!! If you are looking for a challenge with some beautiful views, then this trail is for you.

backpacking
8 months ago

Art Loeb trail kicked my butt. Be prepared for Pilot Knob, it’s killer. Beautiful views, killer hike. Very difficult but awesome.

Been hiking here for 20+ years. One of my all time favorite trails

hiking
10 months ago

Art Loeb was a real trooper, I find it amazing that Art built this trail the old fashion way by bushwhacking his way through the forest. Art chose the tallest five peaks he could find to climb, and when that wasn’t strenuous enough for him he decided to fully descend into the bottom of the canyon before hiking up to the next mountain summit. My wife, son and I hiked the Art Loeb trail in late fall and while the days were just beautiful the nights had fierce winds which made it nearly impossible to have a fire and enjoy the evenings. We only allowed 2 ½ days to hike the whole 30 miles which was a mistake because it didn’t allow us enough time to enjoy the views, next time I’ll provide 3 ½ days. We started the hike from Davidson River Campground and the first half of the trail is through dense forest but shortly after you cross the Blue Ridge Parkway the trail opens up. I have hiked dozens of impressive peaks in the Rockies but when you are carrying a 40-pound pack and trying to complete this trail in 2 ½ days its quite difficult, even for the most experienced hiker. We drove up a day before we started the hike and hid water near different road crossings that ended up being a really smart choice. We only had one car, so we rented a car from Hertz just outside of the park. Then drove up to the Boy Scout camp (where the trail ends) and dropped our car off. Then drove back to Hertz and they dropped us off at the Davidson River trailhead where the trail begins. They didn’t even charge us and the car only cost us about $30 for the day. Because of the grand views at the summits I would definitely hike this trail again but I can’t stress enough that I would allow for at least 3 ½ days to complete the hike.

backpacking
Wednesday, March 08, 2017

By far one of the best trails in the southeast. Offers everything someone could want in a 3-4 day trip.

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

on Art Loeb Trail

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

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