Black Balsam Knob to Shining Rock, NC

Black Balsam Knob to Shining Rock

Enjoy breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as the Art Loeb Trail makes its way from the Black Balsam Knob parking area to Shining Rock Mountain. 

Chris & Mac of Grey Otter Outventures

Chris & Mac
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Length: Up to 10 Miles Round Trip
Trailhead(s):  Black Balsam Knob Trailhead
Elevation Gain:  1,148’
Trail Type:  Out & Back Or Loop on Investor Gap Trail
Dogs:  Allowed
Difficulty:  Moderate
Permit Required?  No
Considerations:  Bears / Seasonal Road Closures
Season:  Year Round


One glimpse of the amazing white quartz boulders brings nods of immediate understanding.  It is easy to see how this place got its name.  Love not just the destination, but the journey as well.  The Art Loeb Trail takes hikers across Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain as they explore the amazing Shining Rock Wilderness.


Black Balsam Knob

Departing the roadside parking area through fragrant balsam trees, the Art Loeb Trail is a short but rocky climb up Black Balsam Knob.  Views from atop this grassy, rocky knob are 360 degrees of Blue Ridge Mountain majesty.  Hiking to the top of Black Balsam Knob is especially popular for both its brevity and its outstanding views.

Black Balsam Knob to Tennent Mountain and Shining Rock Gap

After descending Black Balsam Knob, the trail passes through rolling hills with grassy expanses, stands of balsam, fir, and mountain laurel.  The trail is further graced with ferns, rhododendron, wild blueberries, and wildflowers.  Such is the incredible beauty of the Shining Rock Wilderness.  It is breathtaking, and on full display on the Black Balsam Knob route to Shining Rock.  If hiking in late May or early June, rhododendron blooms add amazing color and are an eye candy treat.

Upon reaching the top of Tennent Mountain after nearly 2 miles on the trail, hikers get a distant glimpse of the white summit of Shining Rock.  The delightful nature of this trail continues as it passes by Grassy Cove Top and Flower Knob until it reaches Shining Rock Gap.  Here is where we depart the Art Loeb Trail.  At Shining Rock Gap take the trail on the right leading towards Old Butt Knob Trail to make the final ascent through evergreens to the amazing white quartz rocks of Shining Rock Mountain.



Unlike anything else along the trail, the ground at the summit of Shining Rock Mountain is strewn with white quartz boulders and rocks of all sizes and shapes.  Glistening in the filtered sunlight, the white quartz dotting the forest is a mesmerizing sight.  Explore this amazing area below the summit before scrambling over and around the large white rock outcroppings to get to the top.  The reward above the treetops is endless views of the Pisgah National Forest and the balds surrounding Shining Rock.  When you have had your fill, head back the way you came, smiling big, because you just witnessed something unique and special.


If the hike out was more arduous or longer than anticipated, take a flatter and slightly shorter loop back on the Investor Gap Trail.  To get there, descend back to the Art Loeb Trail and take the Little East Fork Trail to the Investor Gap Trail.  Although this trail is not as scenic and likely more muddy, it is less strenuous than Art Loeb.  Taking this route back also includes hiking along Black Balsam Road in order to return to the trailhead parking area from which you departed.


Because there are many trails in this wilderness, hikers will note several trail junctions along the Art Loeb Trail.  Since they are not all well marked (this is a wilderness area, after all) as to what they are or where they are headed, it can be very confusing to determine which one to take.  As such we highly recommend using an official trail map or trail app (we use Gaia) for this hike.


Scroll down to learn about the GEAR WE USE and OTHER OUTVENTURES in this area.

Additional Information

Shining Rock Slideshow

(Click image to expand.)

Gear We Use for Day Hiking

To see descriptions of the gear Chris & Mac use for day hiking, as well as links to manufacturers and retailers offering the gear for sale, please CLICK HERE.

Hiking DuPont State Forest, North Carolina

Articles About Other Regional Outventures

Click below to learn about other regional outventures in this area.

SAFETY DISCLAIMER:  The activities discussed in this website are outdoor activities and, as such, have inherent risks to which participants are exposed.  It is not the intent of this website, nor is it possible due to the variability of weather, terrain, equipment, and experience, to detail all of those risks.  The information contained in this site is informational, but not instructive nor exhaustive.  It is the sole responsibility of the user to ensure he/she is in good health, fully prepared, and fully informed as to dangers before undertaking any of the activities discussed in this website and the user does so at his/her own risk.  The user understands that by using this website he/she acknowledges and accepts all risks associated with use of information from this website and participation in any particular activity addressed herein.  Please see “Terms of Use” for additional information.

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