Hike Big East Fork Shining Rock Loop

North Carolina Shining Rock Trailhead

Added by Alicia Yancey

Incredible Loop Displaying the Greatest Gems of Pisgah National Forest.

We began this trip by camping overnight in Graveyard Fields. Those camp sites are .5 miles from the car, so we kept our food there over night. Bear activity has increased, so it's strongly advised to bring a bear canister and be wise about food storage.

We woke up early the next morning made breakfast, lightened our packs and took off for a day loop hike. We decided to hike the route clockwise.

From the parking lot, make your way back into Graveyard Fields. From Graveyard Fields take the Graveyard Ridge line up towards Black Balsam Knob and hit the Art Loeb Trail (or you can short cut and go to Investor Gap). From there head towards Shining Rock via Flower Knob. The trail breaks off there (it's a very sharp turn downwards and back to the right), you'll make the way downwards into the mountain cove via Shining Creek Trail beside the Big East Fork River. I would highly advise a map since there are multiple horse trails and other "side trails" that lead off from the main trails. If you wanna add a little more mileage at this point, continue straight at the fork downwards to the Big East River and check out the infamous Shining Rock. Just continue out 1-2 miles and you'll run into the beautiful white, gray freckled shining rock burrowed into the mountain wall.

Once you make the right turn towards the Big East Fork River, you'll drop in elevation pretty significantly. The ecosystem will begin to warm up as you make your way into lower elevation. Eventually you'll hit the river for some beautiful rock and waterfall scenes. Once you find yourself at the Big East Fork trail head, grab some lunch and take a dip in the River!

From the trail head, take a right and walk up the road 0.15 miles to the other Big East Fork trail head. This trail will undo the work you just did by slowly climbing up on the opposite side of the Big East Fork River. You'll begin to slowly climb your way up. It won't be as drastic as the climb down. At this point make sure you stay by the river the whole time. Once you reach an area where the trail slightly disappears (you'll see a sign saying "trail this way") then work your way up to the left away from the river. Here's the section where you'll be close to the Parkway. This trail will loop you back to Graveyard Fields where you can get back to your car for a little jig!

Grab a beer on your way out at The Hub in Pisgah.

Pack List

For Day Hiking:

  • Water
  • Light day pack
  • Food/snacks
  • Camera for photos
  • Rain jacket

For overnight camping:

  • Tent (def don't skip on the rain fly)
  • Stove (Shining Rock Wilderness does not allow campfires)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Ground tarp (it can get damp and weather can be fickle)
  • Food/water
  • Bear canister
  • Headlamp
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Camping, Hiking

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



14 Miles



Easy Parking
Swimming Hole

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How to Get There

4 months ago

Solid Camping

Pretty hike, camped along where two waterfalls met and completely worth it.

4 months ago

Added by Alicia Yancey

Explorer and creative. Lover of coffee, new cultures, and the great outdoors. Married to my burly bearded man and puppy mom to two brittany spaniels.

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