Hike Details

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Trail Map

Printed Trail Map

Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wildernesses by USDA Forest Service

Hike Stats

8.3 m, 3350 ft   S 

6001 ft max elevation

Seasonal Accessibility

This trailhead may be closed in winter – check with the National Forest Service

Trailhead Coordinates

N35 21 57.06 W82 49 4.92 (DMS)
N35 21.951 W82 49.082 (DM)

Google Maps and other cell phone and car navigation systems generally accept destinations in the above lat/long formats

Download All Shining Rock GPX Files

View – Shining Rock is a 5940 ft. elevation prominent white quartz outcropping large enough to be seen from a distance. Several trails lead to Shining Rock, one of which is Old Butt Knob Trail. This trail has view points on Old Butt Knob and Dog Loser Knob. The return on Shining Creek trail goes along Shining Creek offering views of modest water cascades and a rocky stream.

Hike Profile – the hike is a loop hike that goes out to Shining Rock on the Old Butt Knob trail and returns via the Art Loeb trail and Shining Creek trails. The initial 2 mile climb up to Chestnut Ridge and Old Butt Knob is a very steep and strenuous climb. After reaching the top of Chestnut Ridge, the trail moderates considerably all the way to Shining Rock. The final short climb to the top of the rock requires some agility.

The hike returns on the Art Loeb trail going south and then a constant moderate descent on Shining Creek Trail which follows Shining Creek.

Trail Surface – mostly bare dirt with some sections of the trail eroded due to overuse. The Shining Creek trail has loose rocks and uneven surfaces.

Environment – the knobs have low growing laurel, rhododendron and blueberries with the occasional fir stand and forest hardwoods. Beech, Birch, and other high land trees grow along the Shining Creek Trail.

Navigation – Shining Creek Trail leads from the trailhead to the intersection with Old Butt Trail which forks to the right at 0.75 miles from the trailhead. At 0.34 miles from the trailhead, Shining Creek Trail forks to the right away from the creek.  Old Butt Knob Trail ascends Chestnut Ridge to Old Butt Knob, to Dog Loser Knob and then past Shining Rock. Approaching Shining Rock at the top of the knob, the trail comes to a three-way intersection. The trail to the left descends to the Shining Rock. Go right at this point to view a number of smaller quartz rock formations in a field of rhodos before going to the Shining Rock. After viewing the formations at the top of the knob, return to the three-way intersection and go straight to descend to the Shining Rock. After entering a balsam forest area, look for a trail on the right. This trail will lead to a spot where you can climb up onto the rock.

For the return, climb back down from Shining Rock and continue going downhill through the balsam forest. The trail may be hard to follow but continue going down and slightly away from Shining Rock. The trail will become apparent and will become the Art Loeb trail. Note that all trails are NOT marked in the Shining Rock Wilderness area.

After emerging from the balsam forest, you will go through a small grassy open area. Less than 0.1 miles from that point, Shining Creek trail branches off to the left. Go slowly and keep looking for the trail. There are some spur trails leading off to campsites, but this trail will be relatively obvious once you see it. It descends rapidly down from the Art Loeb trail and runs along the bank of the Shining Creek.

Directions to Trailhead – take US 276 3 mi. from its junction with the BRP to the Big East Fork Parking Area on the left. There are directions to the Shining Creek trailhead on a Forest Service display. After a short distance the Old Butt Knob Trail forks to the right and begins a challenging ascent onto Chestnut Ridge.

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