• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    32 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    7887 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking

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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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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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.

8 months ago
8 months ago

Hiked the trail both directions and would definitely recommend South to North. As previously said carry plenty of water, it's rather sparse and you will need it. The trail is very difficult but absolutely worth the effort. Once you reach the shinning rock wilderness it's really easy to loose the trail. That was the most frustrating part for me. There are so many spur trails and taking the wrong one will take you along way from where you wanna go. Make sure you take a map!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

We hiked this trail in the beginning of August. I would definitely recommend hiking it South to North. Some people do it the other way, but saving the best part (Shining Rock Wilderness) for last makes your hiking the most rewarding, and the signs are very clear in Shining Rock that direction. (One pointing to Flower Gap, and one pointing to Cold Mountain.) We started in the afternoon of our first day and made it to Butter Gap, where there is a shelter, bear hangs, and a nice spring. Day two we made it to the summit of Black Balsam and camped there. Incredible 360-degree views of the sunset, stars, and sunrise over the mountains are incredible! Some folks in our group had a tough time and didn't want to hike up cold mountain the last night, which is unfortunate. Bear canisters are REQUIRED for camping in Shining Rock, and there's good reason. A newbie camper on Black Balsam had disregarded the posted signs about bear canisters - he came up to us the next morning while we were eating breakfast with the shredded remains of a nylon stuff sack and food packaging. One of our party said that the bear had come up to him and sniffed at him in his tarp-tent during the night. Keep a clean camp, and use bearproof canisters. The Ranger Station at the South trailhead sells a good topo map of Shining Rock Wilderness for $6. Carry plenty of water since sources are scarce. Deep Gap after Pilot Mt. was dried up, but there was a good spring not far to the east on the road at Farlow Gap.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Steve Yocom

25 years young. Burst at the seems, be what you dream. Living in the Blue Ridge Mountains! Adventuring whenever I can!

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