Explore the Treasures of Shining Rock

Shining Rock Trailhead

One of the first and most vast Wilderness Protection Areas in North Carolina. Access to water at high elevation points and unique rock formations. Epic view of Western North Carolina's mountains. 3.4 mile hike one-way with 2,200 feet of elevation gain (6.8 miles roundtrip). Spacious old growth campsites with perfect hammocking trees!!!

There are several ways to access the Shining Rock Wilderness Area, but go for the main trail head off of Hwy 276. The trail is split by the Pigeon River, providing a seemingly infinite combinations of trails and routes, keeping in mind that this area intersects often with the well known Art Lobe trail. We like to go on two night trips, spending the first night at the base of the mountain playing in the river and ascending its peak the following day.

To summit Shining Rock, take the trail (Shining Creek Trail according to your map) on the right hand of the Pigeon River. After about a half mile, follow the distinct yet unmarked and uphill trail on the right. This is where your journey begins! The hike to the top is only 3.4 miles, but with over 2,200 feet of elevation gain, it takes a few hours. These hours will be filled with stream crossings, mini waterfalls, funny little mushrooms, stunning fern forests, wild berries and old old trees.

Watch your step, because as you get closer to the top, the trail becomes almost completely made of tree roots. One of the advantages to this trail is that the Pigeon River drains from this area, so with average rainfall, there's several water access points along the way--even as you near the top. Take your time as you climb (which won't be too much of a problem, this trail is difficult!) because this bewitching forest has a lot of history to offer.

As you summit the top, sunset is probably nearing. (The hike up takes an average of three to five hours,depending on your speed.) You'll notice dozens and dozens of crystal quartz outcrops--of all different sizes--sprinkled everywhere along the top of the mountain. One of them being well over two stories tall, this is where you sit and watch the sun set over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Afterwards, retire to one of the campsites tucked back into clusters of old growth mountain laurels and get ready for dinner. You can't have fires in this area, but hey you're pretty tired at this point just use your stove. Hang up your hammock, layer up and listen to the breeze rush through the trees along the ridge line and find the Milky Way.

Pack List

  • ProNest
  • Atlas Straps
  • ProFly Sil
  • Ignitor Top Quilt
  • Blaze Underquilt
  • Map (this area is tricky!)
  • Trekking poles (not necessary, but will help)
  • Headlamp
  • MSR Stove
  • Camera
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Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Not for the faint of heart

Make sure pay attention to the instructions. Since the trails are not blazed my buddy and I ended up heading towards cold mountain for about 2 miles in some of the roughest trails ive experienced. The trail is tough on the legs and can be even harder on the way down. The pigeon river is wonderful and offers a few swimming holes to cool off in nextx to some mini water falls. Just make sure you're careful out there. Id also recommend that the outbound remove the dog friendly tag on this adventure because it very much isn't.

No Great Over Look

The hike is awesome and challenging. Although at the summit there is not great over look. We arrived at sunset and found it underwhelming. We suggest making it to the art Leob intersection where it flattens and clears out for great views. Also heard there was a big problem with bears, we didn't experience any but a bear can is recommended as it was very remote and not well traveled. Awesome ruggedness and great adventure just not the photo op we were looking for.

Great Gem In WNC

One of my favorites in the area! Starting at the Big East Fork trailhead you will follow the rivers beautiful clear waters and see multiple waterfalls as you make the climb up. Once you gain elevation, you'll be exposed to high altitude grassy balds with 360 degree views. You'll want to frolic through the exposed knobs and picnic for hours. Toughest part is making the climb up to graveyard fields or shining rock. Once you get there (4ish miles) the trails level out and the views outweigh any muscle soreness. We did a round-trip (18 miles ) in one day! So worth it! See a diversity of ecosystems: rhododendron tunnels, river beds, and exposed grassy balds. Started at graveyard fields parking, took the graveyard fields ridge to investor gap and caught the art loeb trail towards shining rock. After flower knob we headed down to the big east fork parking (major downhill) and caught the other big east fork trail back up to graveyard fields. Took 7 hours. Grabbed a beer at The Hub in Brevard on our way out! Perfect way to end the trip!


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