29.2 miles
6,566 ft
-7,624 ft
1 mile
High Point
Supporters, Builders, Maintainers & Land Managers of Art Loeb Trail

Art Loeb Details

  • Activities
    • Hike
    • Trail Running
  • Riding Area
    Pisgah Ranger District
    Brevard, North Carolina
  • Difficulty Rating
  • Hiking SAC Scale
    T3 Demanding Mountain Hiking
  • Trail Type
  • Direction
    Both Directions
  • Physical Rating
  • Trail Visibility
    Sometimes hard to follow
  • Season
    Year-Round, Best During Fall & Early Winter
  • Family Friendly
  • Dogs Allowed
  • eBike Allowed
  • Ride in Rain
  • Local Popularity
    5 in Hiking [+]
    • 5 in Trail Running
  • Land Manager

The Art Loeb is a cornerstone hiking trail in the Pisgah Ranger District. Roughly 50k in length, it's northern terminus is Camp Daniel Boone near Waynesville/Canton - it's southern terminus is at the Davidson River Campground near Brevard. Backpackers often divide the trail into a 2-3 day trip, while ambitions trail runners frequently attempt a single-day traverse. Fall and early winter provide the best chance for favorable weather, vehicle access, and dependable drinking water. That said, the trail is open year-round and there are undoubtedly backpackers and runners on the trail every weekend of the year.

North to south, the trail begins with a steady climb into Shining Rock Wilderness and is easy to follow for the first few miles. The trail levels out in a clearing, where the Cold Mountain Summit Trail spurs to the left. The Art Loeb continues to the right. "The Narrow" lie ahead, arguably one of the most challenging section and one that can be hard to follow at times. There are no trail blazes or markings as the trail follows the narrow ridgeline. Check your map frequently to make sure you're on track. In most of wilderness areas in NC, trails are neither signed or blazed, and should you become injured, the only way out is on foot. Cell reception is also extremely limited through much of the route. Verizon tends to offer better service than AT&T, the best chances coming from the higher elevations and mountain peaks.

After departing from Shining Rock Wilderness, the trail crosses over the summits of Tennent Mountain and Black Balsam Knob, both popular day hiking destinations thanks to the 360-degree views from their summit. After crossing Black Balsam Knob, the trail dips down to a paved forest service road that is only accessible via the Blue Ridge Parkway. In the winter months, check road conditions since the parkway frequently closes.

For the next couple of miles, the trail co-aligns with the Mountains to Sea Trail, passing through dark forests, through open meadows, and along exposed rock formations. A well-marked intersection denotes the trail leads to the left, while the Mountains to Sea Trail continues straight. After a steep descent, you'll cross the BRP and continue along a long ridgeline to Farlow Gap.

Pilot Mountain lies ahead, a demanding climb from either direction. A small vista at the top awards views of the Great Balsam Mountains. Gloucester Gap comes next after a long descent off the back of the mountain. This is the only other opportunity for vehicle access if you need it.

The final ~13 miles of the Art Loeb are monotonous as the trail crosses over ever possible knob, high point, and mountain before ending at the Davidson River Campground. Since this section is closer to town, there are countless campsites and opportunities for shorter day hikes. Pay close attention to trail markings in this section as well, as several trails and unused logging roads intersect the trail along the final leg.

Dependable water can be found on the climb to Cold Mountain junction, after leaving Shining Rock Wilderness, near Farlow Gap, and a couple of miles after Gloucester Gap near the shelter. The water near Farlow Gap can be difficult to locate, but make sure you do since it's the last opportunity for a while. Many hikers make the mistake of skipping over the spring, expecting plenty more ahead.

Seasonal water is available all across Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain, and a piped spring is available near the Sam Knob Trailhead on Ivester Gap if you really need some. Water is also available on Butter Gap Trail, maybe .5-miles from the junction with the Art Loeb.

Access Info

Camp Daniel Boone and Davidson River Campground can both be found with a Google Search. Black Balsam Knob is the same, though the point where the trail crosses the road can be confusing since it's not well marked. Look for the parallel parking spots, less than .5-miles up. There are usually an abundance of cars.

A 2-car pull-off is also available where the trail crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway, but again - be mindful of closures during the winter.

Gloucester Gap is the last access point along the trail and ~15 minutes from the NC State Fish Hatchery. At the gap, there are 3 accessible roads, and one permanately gated road. There is parking for 5 - 10 vehicles if you get creative. There is no set closure date for this road, but it can sometimes be closed during the winter as well.


No bikes are allowed on any section of the Art Loeb. Please report any violators to the Pisgah Ranger Station - 828-877-3265.

More Stats for Art Loeb hike trail trail
  • Altitude change
    -1,058 ft
  • Altitude min
    2,195 ft
  • Altitude start
    3,253 ft
  • Altitude end
    2,195 ft
  • Grade
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    14 miles
  • Distance down
    14 miles
  • Distance flat
    4,859 ft
  • view trail stats
on Oct 5, 2020
Avg: 4.5 (4 votes)

view (0)
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Groomed
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Ideal
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
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Activity Recordings
Trailforks users anonymized public ridelogs from the past 6 months.
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      Directions to art-loeb trailhead (35.388480, -82.897120)
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      Art Loeb Trail Reports

      Oct 5, 2020 @ 10:20am
      Oct 5, 2020
      Small trees down across trail, can navigate over or around. Water source non existent at Balck Balsom knob area in-between Deep Gap Shelter and...
      Jul 13, 2020 @ 7:16am
      Jul 13, 2020
      Apr 16, 2020 @ 3:45pm
      Apr 16, 2020
      reporter COVID-19
      Nov 27, 2019 @ 8:52am
      Nov 27, 2019
      reporter The wildfire on Cold Mountain is now contained and the Art Loeb through Shining Rock Wilderness is open again.
      Nov 21, 2019 @ 4:48pm
      Nov 21, 2019
      reporter The Art Loeb is closed through Shining Rock Wilderness due to a forest fire on Cold Mountain.
      view all reports »

      Recent Ridelog Activity on Trail

      Past Week
      • 0 rides
      6 Months
      • 0 rides
      • 0 rides


      more »
      20 |
      Oct 7, 2020 @ 2:46pm
      Oct 7, 2020
      5 |
      Oct 7, 2020 @ 2:46pm
      Oct 7, 2020
      0 |
      Oct 7, 2020 @ 2:45pm
      Oct 7, 2020
      1 |
      Oct 7, 2020 @ 2:45pm
      Oct 7, 2020

      3 Reviews & Comments

      • + 1
      togood2die (Apr 17, 2020 at 5:51)
       100% I dare the FS to arrest me for hitting one of these.
      • + 2
      xcben (Oct 5, 2020 at 10:22)
       First solo backpacking trip was a success. I decided to hike the Art Loeb Trail going from South to North. I did this when I read the best views are saved for the later part of the journey. Which I really was grateful for. The one thing I didn't anticipate was that this would be one of the hardest adventure treks I'd ever undertake.  Not only physically, but also mentally. I wanna thank everyone on here who helped me with info. I learned a lot in the one week I planned this trip since it was all a spontaneous thing. Came up here for work and mountain biking. My girlfriends camping gear prompted a one nighter and then this trip two weeks later. Borrowing her gear meant I had to carry the opposite of a ultralight camper.  A two person tent, MSR stove with fuel canister, long story short my pack weighed 46lbs. I made it happen and it was a blast. I am not gonna lie, I was a little nervous and a bit scared at first. Especially when I almost stepped on a Copperhead 3 miles into my hike. Haven't seen any snakes the 3 months I've been up here and then BAM when I am on my 3 Day solo trip I almost step on one lol. Luckily the feelings of anxiety went away and the sounds and feels of nature around me took over. I became quite happy alone and thrilled when seeing other hikers. We exchanged info of where water sources were and told stories of things that have happened thus far.

      Three days of hiking 30.5 miles with an elevation gain of 8,642ft.  This will go down as one of the most memorable solo experiences I have ever had.

      Below is some info I have found out about water sources. Starting from South to North.

      Davidson Campground to Butter gap - Nunerous water sources along the way. No worries.

      Butter Gap Shelter to Deep Gap - no water source. Butter Gap has piped water next to shelter. When at Deep Gap. Looking out of shelter. Go straight and there is a spur trail down to a stream. Pond water source.

      From Deep Gap to Black Balsom Knob - no water source unless you find a night camper who pulled up on black balsom. For me it was Friday night and a dude named Ben had a 5 gallon jug in his car. I was told on the map there would be a water source just before Black Balsom Road just north of the campsite. That proved to be wrong.

      From Black Balsam Knob to  Shinning Rock- Numerous water sources. Some are running across trail. My favorite was the one coming off the quartz rock on the side of the hill. 

      Shinning Rock to a mile down Cold Mountain.  No water source.

      Remainder of the 3 miles to Daniel Boone had multiple creeks for water.

      Day One - 8.5 miles - camped at Butter Gap

      Day Two - 10.7 miles - camped at Black Balsom Forest

      Day Three - 11.33 miles

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