a Shining Rock Map | More Day Hikes
is the time of the year to hit the trails if you like views and
solitude. The leaves are gone and so are the crowds. Because of
the sudden weather changes and lower temperatures many opt to stay
home in the Winter. As a result some find this an appealing
time to hike. Below are some short day hikes near the Blue Ridge
Parkway, approximately 30 miles south of Asheville. These hikes
are at a higher elevation so the temperatures are low and the wind
cuts like a knife. As a result these hikes are intentionally short.
This area is located in the Pisgah
from the Blue Ridge Parkway
trailhead here begins at milepost 418 at the right side of the parking
area. The paved...yup paved trail begins in a thick patch of Rhododendron
with many side trails none worth following. The path leads you downhill
to a small bridge that crosses Yellowstone Prong. After crossing
the bridge the trail to the right leads to Yellowstone Falls. If
you turn right and take the first trail that leads uphill away from
Yellowstone Prong. You are now hiking in the Graveyard Fields.
of the few trees in Graveyard Fields.
is also an excellent place to camp. It is an open field devoid of
any large trees due to a Forest fire in 1925. Piles of slash, the
branches and limbs that the logging company left behind, caught
fire and burned over 25,000 acres of timber. The logging company
had to rebuild bridges and trestles that burned to rescue stranded
logging trains.The fallen tree trunks and mossy stumps are all that
remain. Hence the name of Graveyard fields was bestowed upon this
spooky looking field. At night the effect is even more dramatic.
use Lamas to carry gear.
recommended route from here is to continue uphill towards Graveyard
Ridge. There are many trails here and it is hard to go wrong, because
you never leave the sight of the parking area. When you reach a
level railroad grade with a trail on it you are on Graveyard ridge.
Turn left and continue, approximately 1/2 of a mile, until you see
a trail to the left. Head back to Yellowstone Prong.
you walk through the field to your left are some tall mountains,
a few miles in the distance. That will be our next destination.
There are several fire rings in this area and is a popular camping
area. As you descend towards the creek there are even more trails
criss crossing each other. When you reach the creek follow the path
to the right to Upper Falls. Double back along the creek back to
the bridge and up to the parking area.
hike is approximately 2.5 miles and can be made longer or shorter
very easily because most of the hike is in a field.
3 miles south of Graveyard Ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway is Forest
Road 816. Take a right on 816 and travel approximately 1/2 0f a
mile to the Art Loeb Trail. Take the trail on the Right side of
the road as you are driving in.
is a short section of the 30 mile long Art Loeb Trail.
you ascend the rocky trail to Black Balsam Knob the absence of trees
is conspicuous. The same forest fire mentioned above forever changed
this section of Pisgah National Forest. The erosion that followed
is still obvious and ongoing. The trail is sparsely populated with
some scrubby conifers. The climb up has views to the northeast of
Looking Glass Rock jutting out of the valley floor.
may be distracted by the panoramic views as you climb! It seems
like a short hike to the top because as you climb the views get
better. The elevation at the highest point is 6214', pretty respectable
for this part of the country. If it is not too windy this is an
excellent lunch spot. Double back to the car for a round trip hike
of around 2 miles.
saddle on the Art Loeb Trail.
south on the BRP approximately 4 miles to the junction of
Rt. 215. Take a left on 215 and head towards Waynesville. As you
wind your way down the mountain notice how the forest changes from
conifers (pine trees) to leafy hardwoods (deciduous) as you descend
to lower elevations. From the Blue Ridge Parkway to Sunburst Campground
you lose 3000'+ in elevation. At the bottom of the "hill"
on the left is the Sunburst Campground. This is an excellent base
camp for hikes in the Middle Prong and Shining Rock Wilderness.
There are many trails in the area and a map is necessary for safe
Sunburst Campground is on the former site of a Logging Camp. The
loggers lived with their families in railroad cars that they rented
from the "company". The men that harvested the timber
from the surrounding mountain sides were paid in company scrip.
They worked 10 hours a day 6 days a week in all seasons. While it
is true that their working conditions were good for the day they
still lived a life of hardship.
the bath house is a trail that leads up the hillside. It is steep
and climbs for a half of a mile to a cemetery. The residents are
there because of a typhoid outbreak in the early twentieth century.
They were buried here because a particularly icy Winter prevented
the bodies from being taken elsewhere. Many of the people here were
the children of the loggers. There are several short trails here
that lead back to the road. Across 215 there are "fishing"
trails on National Forest land that follow the west fork of the
Pigeon River. It is worth the trip just to see this scenic river.
back up 215 to the Blue Ridge Parkway and turn left back towards
Graveyard Fields. Drive past the fields and turn on Rt. 276. Turn
right and coast down the mountain towards Cruso. Again at the bottom
of the mountain is your destination. Just past the small bridge
over the east fork of the Pigeon River you will see a sign on the
left that says Big East Fork. Park in parking area. The trail begins
behind the tri-board at the end of the parking lot.
trail is on an old railroad grade and follows the East Fork. After
a short distance you see a sign that says "Trail" and
points to the right. Don't turn and continue straight on the railroad
grade. The trail on the right is the Shining Creek Trail and climbs
3000' to Shining Rock.
the trail follows the river there are numerous campsites. These
are so close to the car that they are suitable for "modified
"car camping. It's not too far to carry in luxuries. The trail
travels through dense Rhododendron and past several beautiful waterfalls.
If one looks closely there are many artifacts that are left from
the logging days. At one point the trail skirts the river on a sandy
beach and in the water is a rail from a narrow gage railroads.
Follow this trail 'till your heart's content and when finished,
backtrack to your car.
above hikes are well suited for a weekend trip. Sunburst, Graveyard
Fields and Big East Fork are excellent places for base camps.
miles south of Asheville, NC on the Blue
Ridge Parkway. Graveyard Fields is at mile post 418. From I-26
take US 64 at Hendersonville, NC to Rt. 276. At the intersection
of 276 and 64 near Brevard
take 276 (BI-LO on the corner) past the Cradle
of Forestry, a worthwhile museum about early logging, to Wagon
Road Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway. If hiking along the Big East
Fork continue past the junction, down the mountain to The trailhead
on the left. If hiking Graveyard fields and the other hikes, enter
the B.R.P. turn left, towards
Cherokee, and travel the short distance to milepost 418. Map
your route with MapQuest>>>>
Shining Rock Wilderness or Pisgah National Forest maps show these
a Shining Rock Map | More Day Hikes