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blueBlack Art Loeb Trail

  4.5 ( 34 )

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31.1 mile 50.1 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 7,578' 2,310 m
Descent: -6,409' -1,954 m
High: 6,194' 1,888 m
Low: 2,138' 652 m


Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 66% (33°)


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Trail shared by Zane Ray

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Fallen Trees: Some fallen trees once you go down from the summit on art loeb

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One of the longest and more difficult trails in NC; this also ranks as one of the most popular.

Zane Ray

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Commonly Backpacked

Bear canisters are required for all backcountry camping. No campfires in the Shining Rock Wilderness


Taken in its entirely, the 30+ mile Art Loeb Trail traverses many significant peaks in North Carolina, which provides ample places to stop to take in the panoramic views. The trail begins with a long and, at times, steep incline at first, but quickly begins a gently rolling descent to the end point.

Many turn this trail into a multi-day trip, but be aware of other trail users who break the trail into segments for day use.


Although one of the longest and more difficult trails in North Carolina, the 30.1-mile Art Loeb Trail still ranks as one of the more popular routes in the area. And no wonder, traveling mainly along peaks and ridges, the trail offers many outstanding panoramic views along the way.

Along its route the Art Loeb Trail traverses several significant peaks, including Black Balsam Knob (6214 feet), Tennant Mountain (6040 feet) and Pilot Mountain (5072 feet). The trail also skirts the base of Cold Mountain which was made famous by the novel and Hollywood film.

Many hikers use the Art Loeb for extended backpacking trips, while others use shorter sections for day hikes, or use connecting trails to form several outstanding loop hikes. Most of the trail is overlapped by the Mountains-to-the Sea Trail which is blazed with 3-inch white dots.

This trail is commonly divided into four separate sections, and more information about the individual sections can be found here:


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Dec 27, 2019
James Ratliff
Apr 6, 2019
Gorgeous views. Went there for sunrise. Started from mile 19.4 and did a loopback on investor gap trail 5.4mi — 3h 22m
Mar 12, 2019
Jaylin Meyer
Mar 10, 2019
Nicholas Sudduth
Nov 23, 2018
Joseph Anderson
Tough climb up pilot, nice views along the way. 31.1mi
Nov 17, 2018
Rich Hogan
Nov 2, 2018
Jacob Cantrell
Hiked South to North, beautiful hike with some challenging uphill sections. Can't wait to do it again!
Oct 25, 2018
Stephen Wright

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 34 votes


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  4.5 from 34 votes
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It took us three days to hike S to N. We camped 1.6 miles south of Gloucester Gap night 1 and on the back side of Tennett Mountain night 2. Overall, the hike was great, but the climbs were tough (especially Pilot Mountain). Make sure you grab water at Deep Gap before Black Balsam. Also, be careful in Shining Rock Wilderness (post-deep gap) - the trail isn't very well marked, and we got lost. Sep 7, 2017
Scott Harrison
Ottawa, KS
Scott Harrison   Ottawa, KS
First time hiker from the Midwest and not accustomed to the mountains. Three days from Davidson river to Camp Daniel Boone March 21-25. Day one: Davidson river campground to Butter Gap 9 miles(9 hours). Day two: from Butter Gap to the conifer forest between the Blue Ridge Pkwy. and Black Balsam Knob 11 miles(9 hours). Day three: from the Blue Ridge Pkwy to Camp Daniel Boone 13 miles(8 hours). The first day was tough ascending and descending the smaller mountains but the trail was fairly smooth. Day two was a bit more intense, Pilot Mountain requiring extra effort. But was well worth the effort making it up over the Blue Ridge Parkway. By day three we were cruising through the balds and kept a spirited pace up through Ivestor Gap. From there we did our best to keep pace through the Narrows: a fairly long section of trail along a steep ridge, before getting to Deep gap. From there it was a pretty gradual ascent all the way to the camp and were able to move quickly. The trail was pretty well marked throughout, although we had to use our map a few times just to make sure. It was a physically demanding trail that required constant attention. Water was plentiful but would suggest keeping an eye on your reserves. By the end of our second day we were low and started out on day three with little to no water. From the perspective of someone who has never hiked before, it was a challenging and rewarding experience. Mar 27, 2019

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