Fork Mountain Trail in the Shining Rock Wilderness

based on 26 tracks & routes #7 hike out of 34 in
6.6 mi
3 hrs 21 min
2,584 ft
Elev Gain


Note: this description from Sunburst begins with the bulk of the climbing and is the reverse of the shown track.
This is a difficult one way trail in Shining Rock Wilderness.

Starting from the bridge near Sunburst CG, you will immediately need to cross the river. This is often a wet crossing, and in storm conditions it can get high. That is why it is best to cross at the beginning rather than end of your hike.

The trail begins with an extended, strenuous climb. You'll reach the main Ridgeline at ~ 3.4 miles and nearly 2,000 ft eg. At that point you may see a well-used user trail to your left. This is a 1/2 mile side trail to High Top, which offer some nice views.

From there the trail follows the ridgeline, with more gradual but noticeable climbs. it goes by Birdstand Mountain and is easy to follow, with a few steep climbs here and there.

Where the Fork Mountain Trail ends it intersects the Ivestor Gap Trail (an old roadbed). You can follow Ivestor Gap to the right for the shortest route to the Black Balsam Parking. Alternatively you can take a short left to pick up the Art Loeb Trail for a more scenic (and strenuous) path back to the Black Balsam Trailhead. The total stats for hiking to Black Balsam Trailhead is around 11 m/4,000'eg.

Getting Started

You will have a lengthy shuttle to do this as a one way hike, but it is worth it. Recommend leaving a car at Black Balsam TH and starting from Sunburst.

Taking Children

Tough hike with a lot of climbing, but no risky areas for children. The side trail to High Top does have some steep, bare rock faces that require care.

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Public Tracks

Daniel Nolan 4 months, 3 weeks ago
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