Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, this 10-miler affords hikers above-the-trees vistas that are often impossible deep within the Pisgah National Forest. Starting from a parking lot near the Blue Ridge Parkway, the route starts by backtracking along Black Balsam Road for half a mile before turning off into the woods on the Art Loeb Trail. Views of the Pisgah Ridge soon open up as the trail climbs Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain.
For sustained periods on the ridgeline stretch up to Shining Rock Gap, the hike strolls through open meadows and affords expansive views (when heavy fog isn’t shrouding the trail). Five miles in, turn off the Art Loeb Trail for a steep (11.1-percent grade), 0.4-mile climb up to Shining Rock, a Pisgah summit marked by its signature clusters of quartz rock. Enjoy the view before backtracking down to Shining Rock Gap and following the Ivestor Gap Trail (an old forest road) back to the parking lot.
-Mapped by Scott Sanders