With its panoramic bald knobs, the Art Loeb Trail is a great destination in the Southeast for a weekend trip. Located in Pisgah National Forest, the trailhead from Black Balsam Knob Road is just over an hour from Asheville and around 3.5 hours from Atlanta.
|| Location ||
The Art Loeb Trailhead on Black Balsam Knob Road is just over an hour from Asheville, and 3.5 hours from Atlanta. The trailhead is accessed via the Blue Ridge Parkway, which gives stunning views on the ride up to the trailhead.
|| The Trail ||
The Art Loeb Trail runs along a series of knobs, many of which have panoramic balds (sites exposed from tree cover). Starting from the Black Balsam Knob Road trailhead, the trail quickly ascends up to Black Balsam Knob. Black Balsam Knob can get quite crowded on weekends, as day hikers and campers make this their destination. The top of Black Balsam Knob is just under 1 mile from the trailhead.
Travelling further along the trail, the next major landmark is Tennent Mountain. Similar to Black Balsam Knob, the top of Tennent Mountain is exposed, with beautiful views over the surrounding forest. Just under 2 miles from the trailhead, Tennent Mountain can also become quite crowded on pleasant weekends.
The trail then heads down to Investor Gap, where a USFS road intersects the trail.
Climbing up from Investor Gap, the trail then climbs over Grassy Cove Top to Flower Knob. Approximately 4 miles from the trailhead, Flower Knob is not nearly as crowded as Black Balsam Knob or Tennent Mountain. Not far from Flower Knob is Flower Gap. With a few well established campsites, and spectacular panoramic views, Flower Gap is a prime camping location.
Further along the trail the Art Loeb intersects with the Old Butt Knob Trail. A short side hike along the Old Butt Knob Trail leads to Shining Rock, which features exposed views of the area. A longer side hike along the Old Butt Knob Trail leads to Old Butt Knob (I personally have not hiked out to Old Butt Knob but friends of mine did and said there were no exposed viewpoints from Old Butt Knob).
Past the intersection with the Old Butt Knob Trail, the Art Loeb Trail begins climbing up Stairs Mountain. This section of the trail can be steep at times. The trail then heads down Stairs Mountain to Deep Gap, then back up to Cold Mountain, which is the northern terminus of the trail.
You can access trail data with THIS LINK.
|| Camping ||
Camping in the Shining Rock Wilderness requires no permit, yet bear cans are required for the area. Along the trail there are numerous campsites. Popular camping spots include: Black Balsam Knob, Tennent Mountain, Investor Gap, and Flower Gap.
|| Water ||
Water is not frequent along the Art Loeb Trail, so make sure you bring adequate water carrying capacity. Just past Flower Gap there is opportunity to fill up water in a small stream.