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  1. #1
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    Default Shining Rock hike

    Seeking wisdom and experience with the following route I plan on hiking in a couple of weeks with 2 of my kids. Strong hikers who love being "out." We will have a half day and two full hiking days. Avoiding the AT d/t "the bubble."

    Looking for recent ground-truth water availability.
    Great campsite suggestions (one tent).
    "Must sees"
    Will be starting and finishing at same point, where I will park the car. (so parking access, availability, and safefy).

    Here's the loop part of the hike:
    Old Butt Trail to Art Loeb to MST (at road 816 Junction) to Bridge Camp Gap trail to Big East Fork trail. This comes to 17.4miles. Within the allotted time they are capable of more, so challenging is OK.

    I am considering making it a "lollipop" by adding one of the following legs:
    -Parking at the Daniel Boone boyscout camp and walking the Art Loeb to the "loop" and walking out the same route back to the vehicle. IIRC adds 13-14miles.

    -Parking somewhere South of the loop on the ALT. Not looking to add more than 14 miles (so no more than 7 trail miles one-way).

    -I haven't dug into other out/back but welcome suggestions, less than 7miles one-way and even shorter suggestions, let's say no shorter than 2-3miles one-way.

    I know this is one of Tipi's stomping grounds, will PM him to see if he minds taking a look.

    I appreciate anyone else's input.
    nous défions

    It's gonna be ok.

    Ditch Medicine: wash your hands and keep your booger-pickers off your face!

  2. #2
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    just a heads up in case ya dont know------the shining rock area requires a bear canister....


    also, you say you want to avoid the AT bubble-----shining rock is also a very popular area and depending
    on when you go, it could be quite busy......



    the only trip i have done in that area was from the parking lot on the parkway out to
    shining rock and back...

    we got water off of some side trail, can't recall which....

    also, the trails up there are unmarked and can be a little confusing....

    a good map will help out......

  3. #3

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    Shining Rock used to be one of my old backpacking haunts back in the early 1980s---but I haven't done a trip in there for many years.

    Patman here on WB goes there regularly and has alot of info.

    https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/mem...43818-PatmanTN

  4. #4
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    TNhiker, Thanks for the bear cannister heads up. We will be Mon-Tue-Wed so hopefully that helps a bit. I have a NatGeo trail map and am very comfortable with map and compass land nav. Will take a gps as well, probably.
    nous défions

    It's gonna be ok.

    Ditch Medicine: wash your hands and keep your booger-pickers off your face!

  5. #5
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    Thanks Tipi!
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    It's gonna be ok.

    Ditch Medicine: wash your hands and keep your booger-pickers off your face!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by greentick View Post
    TNhiker, Thanks for the bear cannister heads up. We will be Mon-Tue-Wed so hopefully that helps a bit. I have a NatGeo trail map and am very comfortable with map and compass land nav. Will take a gps as well, probably.


    yeah.....weekday should cut it down some.....

    its been a while since ive looked but it seemed like the Nat Geo one is kinda confusing...

    you might wanna check out the pisgah map company's version.......it's also a lot easier to read...

  7. #7
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    You don't have to make a lollipop from Daniel Boone. There are two trails that go up from there trail. One is the Art Loeb that takes you to the base of Cold Mt, and the other takes you up to Shining Rock area directly, so you can make a loop. I think it is easier/best to go up that trail to shining rock then come down the Art Loeb.
    For water, it is wet here. There will be trickles and seeps everywhere. The gap at the base of Cold Mt. does not have a reliable spring, but it is good place to camp. Walking up Cold Mt. and hanging out for an hour or so at the top is well worth the effort.

  8. #8

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    Hi Greentick,

    Addressing your main route and questions on that: I don't recall many reliable water sources going up Chestnut Ridge (Old Butt Knob trail 332), this time of year you may find enough flow at Beech Spring Gap (on the Nat Geo map) but by that point you're almost all the way up to Shining Rock gap, south of which is an obvious and reliable spring on the east side of the trail. So depending on what your plans are, you'll want to carry enough water for the tough 3.6 mile slog up Old Butt Knob (notice that you gain several thousand feet on that approach) and beyond or make a run to the spring to camel-up for a dry camp elsewhere.

    Shining Rock in general has no lack of great campsites just depends on what your criteria are. There are sites all along the ALT from Cold Mountain all the way down. Pretty much any little trail you see shooting off from the ALT is likely a campsite use trail. Some of the busiest high camp areas are Shining Rock gap itself, Flower Gap, Investor Gap, and back side of Tennent Mountain. As far as must-see I would say that entire high ridge is really special; I suggest making time to find the namesake white quartz that you can climb all over and watch the sun set from. There is no marked trail to it last time I went through there but there is a clear use trail. That area around Shining Rock gap is a little tricky so check carefully when navigating around it. If you do come up Old Butt you'll encounter this trickiness immediately at the top.

    I like the north side of the trail but many don't care for it as its not as wide open as the all the high ridge gaps. I like hiking the narrows and I also like camping on Cold Mountain. Be aware if you explore that area that there are no great water sources on the ridge once you get very far north of Shining Rock Gap (there is one on trail just about .2 north) unless you go down towards the boy scout camp. There is a "sometimes" source north of Deep Gap on the way up Cold Mountain but I would not bet on it.

    If you like wide open views and don't mind the weather exposure, than places like Flower Gap or Investor may fit the bill. If you'd rather go for more sheltered and private camps, look for any of those little use trails and have fun exploring them. If it's swimming weather you'll pass a really nice swim hole on the MTS near the Bridges Camp junction. All the MST from the branch with Art Loeb across Graveyard fields is really pretty too.

    Hope this helps some.

  9. #9
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for your input!
    nous défions

    It's gonna be ok.

    Ditch Medicine: wash your hands and keep your booger-pickers off your face!

  10. #10
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    Going up from the Shining Creek trailhead, you may go up the steep and dry and brambly Old Butt Trail, or stick to the Shining Creek Trail, which may have some downfalls to get past. They both lead to Shining Rock Gap, and both are beautiful in their own way. I just don't recommend coming Down from Old Butt.
    The aforementioned regular spring on the Art Loeb is just south of the ALT-Shining Cr jct.
    Once on the ALT, a nicely hidden campsite is between Shining Rock and Shining Creek Gap, on a deep and overgrown side trail to the north/east.
    Flower Gap has nice campsites too, open for sun rises and sets.
    Between Tennant Mtn and Black Balsam, there's an unmapped trail going down to the Ivestor Gap trail/road, if weather becomes sketchy. A little tucked-away campsite is in that short stretch.
    If you need water before going up Tennant, there's a piped spring just south of the knob that's south of Ivestor Gap. Like you go past the ALT up Tennant just a bit on the IG trail.
    The swimming hole someone mentioned is Skinny Dip Falls, and yeah it is nice; also popular. Well beaten stretch of the MST from there to the Parkway.
    More nice camping where Bridges Camp Gap trail meets the river. Again at the low end of Greasy Prong trail, which requires a ford or rock-hop, depending on flow.
    Until a few years ago, I helped maintain these trails with Carolina Mtn Club. Not sure of their state now.

  11. #11
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    Mike and Pat: great info compacted/packed in those posts, will break it down to suit my hike. I like that there is camping all over. I may let the kids do some route choosing and just set up when we decide to stop for the day.

    Mike, thanks for your past maintenance in the AO.

    I love planning, sometimes alot, but I always say no plan survives contact with reality. Love the feeling of hitting the trail, knowing that what's in my pack is what I got; it's all walking after that.
    nous défions

    It's gonna be ok.

    Ditch Medicine: wash your hands and keep your booger-pickers off your face!

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