Monday, June 20, 2011

Shining Rock Wilderness

The Author on top of Shining Rock
Finally, I made it out to Shining Rock in the Shining Rock Wilderness of Western North Carolina. Nestled within the huge Pisgah National Forest, the Shining Rock Wilderness surrounds the pinnacle of this attraction: Shining Rock. There are a couple of ways into this marble dome mountain, the route I chose and have walked before, was coming from Black Balsam's parking area where it's about a six mile hike one way into the wilderness. Or you could opt to park at the Ivestor Gap Trail parking area and walk the Ivestor Gap Trail until it meets the Art Loeb. The latter is the easier hike.

Looking down on Shining Rock from the top.
When you get to Shining Rock Gap, there is a series of confusing intersections of trails, of which, none are marked. You must take the north bound trail from here and you will find shining rock up a series of steep inclines, about five minutes away. The first signs are obvious, you'll pass a lot of marble rock scree once you enter the pine forest. The rock debris will increase in frequency until you finally arrive at a giant marble rock dome: Shining Rock. You can climb up from the bottom on the slippery marble, or you can follow the rock up from the bottom until you come across a few unmarked obscure trails that lead up through the trails to the top of the rock. Following the trails is, obviously, the easier route.

The view is amazing from the top of the rock. Well worth the hike. There's good camping spots around Shining Rock Gap where all the trails intersect. Not a lot of good water sources nearby, however. Just fill up on your way in though. This is a hike well worth your time and the Art Loeb, should you choose to follow it, has some great views from the top of Balsam Knob and Tennet Mountain.

Happy Trails

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