Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
1,614.00 ft (491.95 m)
Trail type
9.60 mi (15.45 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

This popular loop hike will take you over four different 6,000-foot peaks in North Carolina’s Great Balsams. Begin by parking at the trailhead at the end of Forest Service Road 816. From here you’ll find the Art Loeb Spur trail that climbs steeply through the woods before coming out on top of a ridge and meeting up with the actual Art Loeb Trail. Amazing views are to be had as you climb the rest of the way up to Black Balsam Knob. There are many campsites here if you are looking to spend the night. Be warned - this is a popular trail, and it may be hard to find a site (or at least a private site) on the weekends. 

The trail continues along the ridge to Tennent Mountain. Soon you’ll descend to a road and the boundary of the Shining Rock Wilderness. The trail isn’t very well marked here, but look for the path that skirts to the right of Grassy Cove Top. If you are looking to summit Grassy Cove, a spur trail leading to the top can be found once you're on the north side of the mountain. Continuing on, you’ll pass a spring (the first water source of this hike). After reaching a junction you’ll want to take the unmarked trail (to the right and uphill) that leads to Shining Rock. It is an unmaintained but well-traveled trail. This area has some nice wooded campsites. If you'll be pushing for the summit of Shining Rock, continue on uphill. The trail gets very brushy toward the top, and it’s hard to tell where the true summit is. If you can find the quartz rock outcropping, you may be able to get a view of Asheville to the northeast.

Return via the Ivestor Gap Trail (trail #101 - sometimes called the Shining Rock Ledge Trail). It is mostly flat and eventually turns into an easy road-walk. There are also several nice springs that provide drinking water here.

If you'll be spending the night, please store your food properly because black bears are active in the area.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Amazing mountain views. Four 6,000-foot peaks. Camping.


Rocky, overgrown trail in spots. Can be crowded on weekends.

Trailhead Elevation

5,806.00 ft (1,769.67 m)

Highest point

6,214.00 ft (1,894.03 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Adventures

Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carollina
Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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