HIGHLIGHTS: The Shining Rock Wilderness is a series of high elevation ridges with spectacular views in the Pisgah National Forest. Five peaks in the area are over 6000 feet including Cold Mountain (6,030 feet) and Black Balsam Knob (6,214 feet). The wilderness is named for Shining Rock (5,940 feet), however, which is a summit of white quartz located in the middle of the area. The views from here are impressive (although not as drastic as other mountains in the forest), and Shining Rock is a central hub for most of the backcountry trails in the area.
This hike starts at the Big East Fork parking area off of US 276 and climbs along Shining Creek to Shining Rock, then descends back to the parking area via the Old Butt Knob Trail. It is a challenging route that is best done with both a topographical map and GPS. Watch the trail carefully at Shining Rock since their are numerous intersecting trails that make it easy to head in the wrong direction. This happened to us at the end of the Shining Creek Trail, and eventually led us to Dog Loser Knob where we camped for the night.