Asheville TrailsbyTrailful Outdoor Co
Shining Rock Wilderness

Cold Mountain

Hike to exceptional views on the Cold Mountain summit in North Carolina’s Shining Rock Wilderness, following the Art Loeb Trail from the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp.

georgia hiking trails: 6 or more miles 10 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: difficultmost
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails near Asheville for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:Shining Rock Wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest

PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 780 Trails Illustrated Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)

Rising high above the surrounding wilderness, Cold Mountain’s rugged, mostly-vegetated summit offers some exceptional views. At 6,030 feet, the mountain is the tallest of five in the Shining Rock Wilderness that peak at over 6,000 feet, and the summit’s lofty elevation offers a usually-cool climate on even the hottest summertime days.

This hike to the mountaintop is the shortest-length route to the summit, but it’s anything but easy. The Art Loeb Trail bags nearly 3,000 feet of elevation gain in an almost unrelenting climb from the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp south of Asheville. It’s a challenging hike, trekking often-unmarked trails in a remote wilderness, so we highly recommend packing a quality topographic map, compass and handheld GPS.

Cold Mountain NC on the Art Loeb Trail

But the summit views are well worth the difficulty, and the hike is ultra scenic, trekking through a lush, green swash of the Pisgah National Forest.

Hike to exceptional views on the Cold Mountain summit in North Carolina's Shining Rock Wilderness, following the Art Loeb Trail from the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp. #hiking #trailrunning #camping #backpacking #asheville #nc #northcarolina #travel #outdoors #adventure

Art Loeb Trail to Cold Mountain: the hike

The hike departs on the Art Loeb Trailhead at the southern end of the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp (view maps and driving directions), catching views of the tumbling Little East Fork Pigeon River beside the trailhead parking area. The forest is lush and vibrantly green: deciduous trees tower overhead, shading moss-covered boulders and leathery-leafed rhododendron.

Cold Mountain NC: hike the Art Loeb Trail from Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp

The hike climbs from the trailhead, the river’s tumbling cascades amplifying through the forest, following the Art Loeb Trail’s rocky and rooty course. The trail switches back to the south, and then arcs northbound, passing several enormous, moss-covered rock outcrops and tunneling through a shaded forest.

The trail dives through a grove of rhododendron and mountain laurel at 1 mile, veering east and passing a small campsite. The hike climbs a rustic wooden stairway and then begins following an old, gravel roadbed at 1.5 miles. Dipping elevation briefly, the Art Loeb Trail crosses a shaded, trickling stream at 1.9 miles.

The hike resumes its climb, crossing a creek and tunneling through dense mountain laurel. The trail passes a campsite at 2.35 miles, and the climb intensifies as the Art Loeb Trail carves through switchbacks in the rocky, leafy, lush forest.

The trail passes a small, trickling spring before reaching a grassy clearing, Deep Gap, at 3.6 miles. Campsites speckle the forest floor throughout the gap. From here, the Art Loeb Trail veers southbound, trekking to the brilliant white, quartz-crusted summit of Shining Rock Mountain. This hike hangs a left from the gap, hiking northeast on the Cold Mountain Trail to continue the climb to the summit.

The trail dives through a dense grove of rhododendron, trekking through a rugged, rocky forest. The elevation gain racks up quickly, the workout intensifying, as the hike begins to score through-the-trees views at 4 miles. Tall wildflowers blow in the ample summit breezes, stretching high to catch the dappled sunlight beneath the forest canopy. The trail climbs through dense rhododendron and laurel thickets, switching back sharply at 4.5 miles and passing a grassy campsite. Wild blueberries and gnarly-branched laurel crowd the trail in the final stretch to the summit.

Cold Mountain on the Art Loeb Trail

Just after passing a campsite, the spur trail reaches the Cold Mountain summit, where large slab rock outcrops offer exceptional views of the opposing ridge and the Blue Ridge Parkway. A vintage US Geological Survey marker marks the mountain’s true summit.

The peak’s gorgeous views just beg for a photo, and the sun-drenched mountaintop makes a great spot for a mid-hike water and snack break (and a well-deserved rest). After soaking up some summit solitude, the hike turns to follow its outbound trek in reverse, enjoying the mostly-downhill return to the trailhead. The hike veers westbound at Deep Gap, descending the Art Loeb Trail to the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp. The trail reaches the trailhead at 10 miles, finishing the adventure.

What is Wilderness, and why is it important? Read more in our guide to Wilderness areas in the South.

Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.

Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.

Cold Mountain on the Art Loeb Trail Map, Directions & Details

This map shows our approximate route while exploring this trail, but does not replace an official trail map. Please refer to the official trail map for the most current and accurate route.

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Driving Directions


Free parking is available in designated areas in the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp. Please follow all posted regulations and instructions at the trailhead and on the USFS website.

GPS Coordinates

35.387025, -82.895856     //     N35 23.221 W82 53.752

Elevation Profile

Cold Mountain on the Art Loeb Trail: Elevation Profile

Eric Champlin is a creative director and photographer who loves to explore southeast. He's the co-owner of Trailful Outdoor Co, a locally-owned hiking outfitter shop in Hiawassee in the Georgia mountains near the Appalachian Trail. He’s also the co-founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.