Shining Creek Path

Shining Rock Wilderness, North Carolina 28139

Elevation Gain3,570ft
Trailhead Elevation3,382ft
Elevation Min/Max3371/5763ft
Elevation Start/End3382/3382ft

Shining Creek Path

Shining Creek Path is a hiking and biking trail in Haywood County, North Carolina. It is within Shining Rock Wilderness. It is 4.0 miles long and begins at 3,382 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,570 feet. The Big East Fork Trailhead parking is near the trailhead. This trail connects with the following: Old Butt Knob Trail.

Shining Creek Path Professional Reviews and Guides

"Shining Rock—like the Craggy Mountains and Mount Mitchell just north of Asheville—is where the Parkway delivers some of the Southern Appalachians’ most stunning scenery.

The horizon peels back on an almost Western scale, and meadow-covered mountaintops march off to meet summits cloaked in evergreens and accented by milk- white crags of quartz—the area’s namesake “shining rocks.”"

"Shining Rock—like the Craggy Mountains and Mount Mitchell just north of Asheville—is where the Parkway delivers some of the southern Appalachians’ most stunning scenery.

The horizon peels back on an almost Western scale, and meadow-covered mountaintops march off to meet summits cloaked in evergreens and accented by milk-white crags of quartz—the area’s namesake “shining rocks.”

Descriptions of the following trails are included: Shining Rock Wilderness Circuits from the East Side; Bald Summit Circuits on the Art Loeb Trail; West Side Circuit and Cold Mountain."

"The hike to Shining Rock from Big East Fork Trailhead is very difficult. By taking Old Butt Knob Trail to the summit, you will gain more than 2,500 feet in 4 miles. However, the views from the large quartz garden at Shining Rock make the strenuous effort worthwhile. When you are ready to return to the base of the mountain you will take the scenic Shining Creek Trail. This route parallels a cascading mountain stream until it meets the Big East Fork River near the trailhead."

"Start high and climb higher on this challenging hike. Enter Shining Rock Wilderness, traveling Shining Creek valley past slide cascades beneath remote forests. Hike into spruce-fir highlands atop Shining Rock Ledge.

Visit the quartz outcrop of Shining Rock before joining seldom-trod Old Butt Knob Trail, hiking by views in a mix of evergreens and highland hardwoods. Pass outcrops with unobscured vistas of the surrounding Pisgah National Forest before dropping over 1,400 feet in a mile and concluding the trek."

Shining Creek Path Reviews

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The Shining Creek Trail is an excellent, albeit quite strenuous hike. And, as this is a wilderness area, the trails are not marked at all. However, if you follow the directions in this guide and pay attention, the trail is easy enough to find and stay on. (Finding Old Butt Knob Trail is a whole different story.) Shining Creek trail follows, suprisingly, Shining Creek almost all the way up and the opportunities for photos of the stream and small waterfalls are endless. There are several good campsites next to the stream after you come out of Daniels Cove. Lots of switchbacks near the top after you've crossed the last stream -- it gets pretty steep here -- and then some real thick brush for the last few yards. The trail intersects with another at the top of some wooden stairs (I assume this is the Art Loeb trail coming in from Ivestor Gap and points beyond). You want to take a right turn at the top of the stairs and the grassy area mentioned is about 100 yards down the trail. From there it's another few minutes to Shining Rock itself. Go ahead and scamper up because the view is amazing! Returning the way I came made for a 6 1/2-hour round trip: 3.5 hours going up, 2.5 hours coming down, and 30 minutes goofing around Shining Rock and the Gap area. Wear good sturdy boots and be prepared for loose rocks, boulders, fallen trees, dark sections under thick canopies of brush, and several water crossings. Heck the stream actually IS the trail in a few locations. This could be an issue during the rainy season but my feet remained dry the first weekend in October. Enjoy this challenging hike! PS: I strongly recommend that anyone attempting this hike read the information contained here: I wish I would have had this the day I summited Shining Rock because the trail intersections around Shining Rock Gap are quite confusing.
The Shining Rock trail is difficult to keep track of, but the view at the end is worth any confusion caused on the way. Although trail running is almost completely out of the question, the terrain isn't extremely difficult to navigate.. be sure to keep track of where the river is in relation to where you are... by doing so, you won't get lost! Beautiful trail, beautiful view... take some time to soak in the sun from the top.
I have hiked the Shining Rock Wilderness a few times. I like the fact that the trails are not marked, but you should be sure to take a map and compass, or a GPS. It is fairly easy to get disoriented. At the ridge, you will also need a good map to find water to filter. The trails are great, and the balds at the top are tremendous. The trails are quite varied. There are normal forest areas, grassy forest areas, large streams, balds, mountain tops, and a few summits over 6000 feet. It is one of my favorite places to hike. If you want to treat yourself, the Pisgah Inn is not far away on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and they have a very nice restaurant. Another good thing is that many of the trails are not that crowded. If you are suicidal, try Old Butt Knob Trail. You will gain 1500 feet in about half a mile. The only down side is that parts of this particular trail are a little scruffy, but I still enjoyed the challenge. The trail desciption says 8.8 miles, but you can come up with a variety of loop and in/out routes that are much longer. You can approach the main Shining Rock ridge from three different directions, which gives you a lot of options.
Beautiful winter scenery, but snow made for diificut travel along the trails in higher elevation sections, snow shoes would have been nice, otherwise a nice trip with great scenery
This trail is very strenuous. The outcorppings made this trail for me. Views of the area were outstanding. Great for picture taking. This trail is somewhat marked. Anyone who needs a good strenuous day hike, this is the trail for you. I started on the Old Butt Knob trail to the summit of Shining Rock at about 6000 feet. Then turned and came down the Shining Creek Trail.

Shining Creek Path Photos

Trail Information

Shining Rock Wilderness
Nearby City
Shining Rock Wilderness
Pisgah National Forest, Pisgah Ranger District, 1001 Pisgah Hwy., Pisgah Forest, NC 28768, (828) 877-3265,
Local Contacts
National Geographic #780 Pisgah Ranger District; USGS Shining Rock
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Jul 2018