Summary: This loop is not blazed because it is located in the Shining Rock Wilderness Area. Some trail junctions are very difficult to recognize. I strongly suggest not attempting this hike without a topo map of the area. A GPS and experience in route finding are also very helpful.
Begin on Shining Creek trail (old roadbed) from the Big East Fork Trailhead. Ascend along the creek most of the way to the Art Loeb Trail at the top of the ridge (approximately 4.1 miles). Turn right. You'll see Shining Rock after about 0.5 miles. Stay to the right and ascend uphill near the rock. Just past the trail on the left that leads to the top of the rock for spectacular views look for a faint trail on the right. Turn here on Old Butt Knob Trail. This junction may be difficult to recognize. Continue down this trail to rock outcrops with great views. Continue descending until you intersect with Shining Creek Trail again. Turn left to return to the trailhead.
Trailhead: From I-40 take Hwy 215 South through Canton. Turn right on Hwy 110 in town. At the intersection of Hwys 110/215/276, go South (left) on Hwy 276. Continue until you see the Big East Fork Trailhead parking area on the right. It will be prominately marked with a large brown and yellow USFS sign. You'll reach it approximately 35 minutes after you leave I-40. (Lat:35.36588 Lon:-82.81794)
Trail Guides for Shining Creek-Art Loeb-Old Butt Knob Loop Trail:
North Carolina Hiking Trails
by Allen de Hart (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: US Forest Service, Pisgah National Forest - 828-877-3350
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Tim Johnson, who has posted 15 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by HM on 9/29/2014
Hiked the loop yesterday counter-clockwise, from the Big East Fork trailhead to Old Butt, then back via Shining Creek. The Old Butt trail was very well-maintained and easy to follow. I encountered only two other people on this section. The climb up to Old Butt kicked my old butt, but it's fairly easy from there on to Shining Rock. The descent from Shining Rock was by far the most difficult part. Very steep, rough, and slippery. A real knee-killer. Otherwise, this is among the best of the brilliant trails in the Balsam Range.
Reviewed by Mac on 9/25/2012
Hiked the Old Butt Knob Trail yesterday almost to the Shining Rocks, then returned due to time constraints. Weather perfect! The trail is in great shape! Two people lost in the nearby wilderness were found later. NOTE: the trails turn uphill to the right after ~400 yards from parking area. This is where folks get lost initially! My favorite hike - saw no one!
Reviewed by Ashley on 8/2/2011
Great Hike, but very confusing false trails. I am a competent navigator but managed to miss the Old Butt Knob trail head while hiking out. Ended up on the Art Loeb Trail even though I followed specific instructions, had a topo map and a compass. It was kind of scary when I realized I was on the narrows and was 2-3 miles off track. I would recommend waiting till fall when trails are more obvious and definitely bring a GPS!! Locals were very helpful when I ended up in their back yard asking for a lift to the Big East Fork trail head. I kind of wish there were some blazes out there. But there is a lot of water available for the dogs all along the hike!
Reviewed by Fred - Part 1 on 8/27/2010
Just hiked these trails (up Shining Creek and down Old Butt Knob) this past week, August 23, 2010. Very much enjoyed it. I went up Shining Creek Trail with our black lab Stinky. He loved the creek. The creek was running strong until fairly close to the top / junction with the Art Loeb Trail. It was dry maybe 1/2 mile from the top, though there is a spring (just a trickle) that is a good source of water about 100 yards to the left when you get to the junction with the Art Loeb Trail. It turned out that I was carrying a 52 pound backpack, so it was a bit tiring, but it was a pretty nice gradual uphill. My first sign of scat appeared to be bear, as it was large (about human size), almost pure blueberries, with a touch of fur in it.
Reviewed by Drew on 12/1/2009
Just hiked this trail last Friday. Great way to follow Thanksgiving. Sure, the trail is slightly, let me repeat....SLIGHTLY lost right before the last couple climbs, but anyone who has spent time in the woods (or knows what uphill looks like) will find their way back to the beaten path with ease. I think the person who posted that inexperienced hikers should stay away is just trying to keep the trail to himself...which is understandable. Great hike with varied terrain, beautiful creek, and a breathtaking view to cap it off. The descent is just as nice because you realize how hard you worked to get to the top.
Reviewed by John on 11/2/2009
We hiked up the Shining Creek trail. I think this is the best way to do the loop, b/c this trail is a gradual climb and is scenic. Pay attention to distances, b/c there are other forks that can be confusing. Once you reach the end of the Shining Creek trail, it is about a 5-10 minute walk up to Shining Rock. The Old Butt Knob trail was difficult to locate at the top. My best description would be once you get to the top of Shining Creek and take a right, and walk about 100 yards where you will see a fork, the left fork will go over to Shining Rock, and the right fork is Old Butt Knob trail, this trail will then fork again, and go right again. You will know this is the trail by the fact that it goes uphill a bit, and keeps going.
Reviewed by Mac on 8/1/2009
Hiked the trail in late May 2009. Old Butt trail in good shape but steep and unrelenting until ~5000 ft elevation. Topo map and compass a necessity. Returned via Shining Creek trail - a beautiful but lengthy rock-hop.
Reviewed by Matt on 2/8/2009
Trail is in decent shape now, the forest service appears to have cut a new switchback (compared to the map) right about where the OB trail hits the wall and starts getting really steep. Take a detailed map of the top or you wont be able to find the Shining Creek trail on your way down. This is probably the steepest trail I've hiked in the South.
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