GetBackpacking! Shining Rock Wilderness


Shining Rock: some of the most photogenic hiking around.

Balds, mountain meadows and spiny ridge lines makes for some of the most scenic hiking in the Southeast. We explore it all on this three-day, two-night trip.

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Virtual Escapes
A mountain meadow hike at Shining Rock.

Over the years, when hikers mention Shining Rock they’re generally referring to the vast area north of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Graveyard Fields to the east and N.C. 215 to the west, an area of more than 50,000 acres. In fact, the Shining Rock Wilderness itself accounts for just under 18,500 acres. Our trip, a base-camp backpack trip, will focus mostly on those 18,500 acres. Our agenda:


Friday: From the Black Balsam Trailhead off the Blue Ridge Parkway, we will hike in 4 miles to our base camp at Shining Rock. We should arrive by 4 p.m., plenty of time to set up camp, have dinner and enjoy a spectacular sunset from atop Shining Rock.

Saturday: In day packs, we will hike north for 3.3 miles on the Shining Rock Ledge, with great views east and west, to Deep Gap. From there, it’s less than a mile to the summit of 6,030-foot Cold Mountain. We’ll have lunch atop Cold Mountain, then return along the Ledge to base camp. About a 9-mile day.

Sunday: We’ll break camp and hike 4 miles back to the trailhead. From there, we’ll don day packs again for a 3-mile loop taking in 6,050-foot Sam Knob and more great 360-degree views.

Your safety

GetHiking! has always respected a hiker’s personal space; please help us keep these hikes going by continuing to do so, and by keeping our hikes from going viral. Please do not sign up for this hike if you have:
+ Tested positive for the COVID-19
+ A temperature in excess of 100
+ A cough or shortness of breath
+ Underlying health conditions that may weaken your immune system, including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes

COVID-19 requirements:

  • At the trailhead, as we gather, wear a mask. Once we start moving, you can take off the mask, but keep it handy should we encounter other hikers.
  • Keep a distance of 6 feet from one another. It’s rare to get closer on a backpack trip, but still … .
  • Do not share food or gear on this trip.This is a small group gathering (no more than 8 people) outdoors. We always respect one another’s space on GetHiking! outings; we do it even more so now.

Trip includes

Fee for this trip is $145 and includes:
* Trip planning seminar focusing on logistics for this trip and for exploring a wilderness. Includes handouts, which will be supplied upon signing up.
* Detailed eguide for the trip, including custom maps and route descriptions of each day’s hiking.
* Bear canisters. Bear canisters are required for this trip. If you don’t have one, we can rent you one for $15.

Challenge level

This is a 20-mile trip, with 8 in full pack. We start high, we stay high: the elevation gain on this trip — minus Saturday’s day-hike climb to Cold Mountain — is moderate. There is some technical challenge on Saturday’s day hike scamper across Shining Rock Ledge, with some minor scrambling required. Overall, we rate the difficulty of this trip as Moderate.


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