Trek over 4 amazing balds of the most scenic trail in the Pisgah Ranger District. Summit the legendary Cold Mountain and climb the quartz towers of Shining Rock Mountain.

Start at The Davidson River Campground just outside of Brevard, NC (276 Pisgah Ranger District). Have a shuttle car or a friend waiting at the Daniel Boone Boy Scout camp for the finish line.

Hop on the 30.1 mile long Art Loeb Trail at the trailhead in the Davidson River Campground. Pull into the campground and make an immediate left into the Art Loeb Trail parking lot. You'll begin the hike on the north side of the river, crossing almost immediately and continuing to climb your way up in elevation and out of the Davidson River Valley. Stick to the trail and after 12 miles, make camp anywhere around Gloucester Gap. The next morning you will climb another 7 miles and cross over the Blue Ridge Parkway. Be sure to explore the cliffs around Silvermine Bald before pushing on to Black Balsam (great views of the ridge you just climbed!). You will then climb over several breathtaking balds before descending towards the base of Cold Mountain. A good place to spend your second night is at the base of Tennent Mountain towards Ivestor Gap. There have been serious problems with bears around the Shining Rock gap section so it's advised to make camp well before or after that area. Be sure to fill up on water at Shining Rock Gap too, there won't be anymore until you get to Deep Gap. After climbing the giant quartz rock formations of shining rock you will climb Stairs Mountain and then descend over a killer ridge called the narrows! This takes you out to the Deep Gap camp. Some people choose to hide their packs and Summit Cold Mountain and others choose to climb it with all their gear and spend one last night on the crown jewel of the trail. At 6,030 feet, the cliffs atop Cold Mountain look back across the entire ridge line you just climbed, the feeling of accomplishment here is amazing! There is a spring at the top of the mountain just before the campsites. In the morning, head back down to Deep Gap and take a right to make the 4 mile descent to the Daniel Boone Basecamp. It is a pretty steep downhill hike and will defintely have you ready for a cold beer and a burger by the time you reach the end of the trail!

Pack List

  • Backpacking gear
  • Camera
  • Bear canister
  • Water filter
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RT Distance 32 Miles
Elevation Gain 7887 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Advanced
Season Year Round
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Great trail with a great story

Love this trail. You can do part of it or all. Both are fun

Awesome hike, but needs better markings

A buddy and I hiked north to south. Several areas in the Shining Rock area where there are a lot of spur trails not on the map and the main trail not well marked. Other than that frustration, it is a great hike. North end has the best views!!

Demanding....but very rewarding!

Just did the Art Loeb southbound 2 weeks ago. Most amazing 30 miles. Has it all! Last leg from Butter Gap to Davidson Creek was a little boring. Will do it northbound next time...and agree the payoff is definitely on the north side in Shiningrock Wilderness.

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