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Shining Rock Wilderness Continued

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False Trails

As beautiful as this area is, the rugged trails can be daunting. Once inside of the wilderness boundaries, the trail markers cease to exist. Navigation here can be confusing. There are many false trails that lead to nowhere. Many are so well developed that they can convince the most experienced hiker. On one visit, many years ago, I wandered from the unmarked trail.



Shining Creek Rattlesnake Encounter

My partner Carol and I were hiking up the Shining Creek Trail on a warm summer afternoon. I hiked this route a few times in the past and thought that I knew it pretty well. We were nearing a creek crossing and I missed the trail. We wandered up a false trail that vanished into some pretty heavy undergrowth.

I was walking about 30 feet in front of my partner and I heard the unmistakable sound of an agitated rattle snack. I froze in my tracks and did not move. The sudden change in movement alerted Carol. He yelled "You alright?". I whispered loudly "Rattlesnake".

After slowly turning around and scanning the underbrush, I saw the tail upright, rattling and protruding from a thicket of small plants. Although I was a safe distance from the snake, I passed within inches a moment earlier.

With a quickened pace I skirted around the snake and backtracked. Moral of the story: Anything can happen on the trail.

It wasn't long after the rattlesnake encounter we found the correct path and continued our hike. After hiking here for years I was reminded once again how the wilderness can throw some unfriendly curve balls.

Lost Map Lost Way

The Shining Rock Wilderness is a great get away for me. Familiar and close to home, a weekend wilderness here is second nature during the summer months. Sometimes, I like to wander off of the trail to find a secluded camping spot. Using that location for short hikes can be a great way to escape my weekday "City-Livin".

On one of these hikes, I was winding my way through some dense underbrush. I had camped in this spot many times in the past, so the route to it was familiar. After walking approximately a half mile from the trail I saw a soggy map of the Shining Rock Wilderness laying on the ground. The site of the missing map gave me the jitters. I found my "secret" campsite and spent a couple of days relaxing. After returning back to the car, I learned that there weren't any reports of missing hikers. That news made the ride home much more relaxed.


Cold Mountain

Many come here with the intention of hiking to Cold Mountain. Since Charles Frazier novel Cold Mountain was published, the interest in the real mountain has increased dramatically. As always most casual walkers are disappointed when they learn of the distance. There isn't any easy way to Cold Mountain and involves a 11 mile, very strenuous hike. Cold Mountain is highest point within the wilderness and has not direct trail to it. This is, however, one of the more "quiet" places in the wilderness area because fewer hikers attempt this hike.



Easy Access

Most that come here for a walk do so from the end of the Black Balsam Knob Road. A parking area here and campsites nearby make this a popular and crowded area. You can walk into the wilderness via an old railroad grade with the greatest of ease. The tread way is obvious and as long as you stay on the road/grade, you won't get lost. There are hidden picnic spots along the way so keep you eye out for that prime spot! After a 3 mile walk, you reach Ivestor Gap. Many walk here during the month of August to pick the plentiful blueberries that can be found all about.

Gettin' There

At Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 412, turn northwest on US 276. Travel approximately 1.25 miles to Big East Fork Parking Area. For a less strenuous access, exit the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 420.2 onto FR 816. Travel 1 mile to parking area. The Ivestor Gap Trail leads into the wilderness.

For a less strenuous access, exit the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 420.2 onto FR 816. Travel 1 mile to parking area. The Ivestor Gap Trail leads into the wilderness.


take I-240W to I -26E towards Hendersonville. Take the NC-280 exit # 40 (old exit # 9)
Asheville Regional Airport/WNC AG Center. At top of ramp go right on NC- 280W towards Brevard.
Go through Mills River and as you come into Pisgah Forest turn right (by Pizza Hut) on Hwy. 276 into Pisgah National Forest. Follow Rt. 276 north. More>>

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