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
- Distance: 17.0
- Miles from city center: 38
Location: 35.32563, -82.881874
Follow the road (Black Balsom Knob Road) back towards the Blue Ridge Parkway to walk to the Art Loeb Trail (roughly 0.5 mile).
Location: 35.320168, -82.876139
Turn left off the paved road onto the dirt Art Loeb Trail. Twenty feet after starting on the trail, bear left @ 3-way intersection. From here, the trail picks up a 400-foot climb to Black Balsam Knob.
Art Loeb runs all the way towards Shinning Rock. Although there are several areas where spur trails have developed around intersections and popular vistas, always follow Art Loeb Trail on the way out.
Location: 35.325542, -82.87719
Turn right @ 3-way intersection.
Location: 35.327363, -82.875785
Turn right @ 3-way intersection, heading up hill to the Black Balsam Knob. Ahead a benchmark marks the top, and you can see TK.
Location: 35.330494, -82.875298
Continue straight @ 4-way intersection.
Location: 35.335983, -82.873497
Turn right @ 3-way junction onto an old forest service road. Continue roughly 50 yards, then turn left off the dirt road onto a small dirt path (following the Art Loeb Trail sign). Ahead the trail starts a short climb to the top of Tennent Mountain.
Location: 35.33699, -82.865242
Ahead the Art Loeb Trail hooks left, jogging west and then north around Tennent Mountain.
Location: 35.340317, -82.867974
Turn right @ 3-way intersection into a gap. Just ahead, the road splits and the Art Loeb Trail continues to the right.
Location: 35.345337, -82.867271
At Ivestor Gap, turn right onto a dirt road. Continue 50 yards on the dirt road before turning left onto a dirt trail.
Location: 35.34618, -82.86309
Optional: At this point it's possible to bushwhack a quarter-mile north to Grassy Cove Top. Follow the supplemental GPS track to the top, or stay on trail to bypass this detour completely. There's another option to summit Grassy Cove Top (via a more established trail) on the north side of the hill.
Location: 35.349956, -82.864296
Turn right @ 3-way junction. A left turn here leads to the summit of Grassy Cove via a well-used trail.
Location: 35.364094, -82.863815
Continue straight through a clearing in Shinning Rock Gap (ignore other side trails), continuing uphill on the well-worn trail. There are several campsites in this area.
Location: 35.366943, -82.862511
Continue uphill @ 3-way junction past a maze of trails. When in doubt, follow the most-traveled path.
Location: 35.368379, -82.862749
Look for the huge quartz stones marking the summit area of Shining Rock. Enjoy the views of surrounding Pisgah peaks before retracing the route down to Waypoint 12 to Shining Rock Gap; from there, go right @ the 3-way junction on the Ivestor Gap Trail.
Location: 35.36491, -82.870682
Turn left @ 3-way intersection onto the Ivestor Gap Trail, an old road bed that travels all the way back to the parking lot. Ignore all cross trails and intersections; the trail is basically flat all the way back to the parking lot.
Location: 35.345386, -82.867363
Back at Ivestor Gap, bear to the right. Ignore the side trail and follow what looks like an old logging road (continuing on Ivestor Trail).
Location: 35.340752, -82.86795
Bear right to stay on the road. The Art Loeb Trail winds along on the left. From here, it's another 1.8 miles on the road back to the parking lot.
Location: 35.324755, -82.880924
Art Loeb Trail
Location: 35.32092, -82.876225
Looking East to the Pisgah Ridge
Location: 35.325499, -82.877008
Location: 35.331932, -82.87528
Location: 35.336624, -82.872105
Foliage in the Mist
Location: 35.337114, -82.866483
Location: 35.368379, -82.862492