💬 UNREAD MESSAGE (1): I received a text one evening from my best friend since the third grade that read something like, "We should go on a road trip somewhere next week like that one time in high school when we told our parents we were sleeping over at each other's houses and snuck off to the beach."
Girls Just wanna have fun.
The Art Loeb Trail had been on my bucket list for almost 10 years and was falling further down the list collecting dust. My best friend was hungry for a 20-something adventure, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity and person to embark on 30-some miles with. And thus, we set out on a mission to complete 30 miles before we turn 30.
Just a Couple Ladies & Their Packs
"We loaded up our packs with three days of food and opted to keep it simple with all dry stock- Clif Bars, protein shakes, gummies, energy packs, and peanut butter. Meg brought a water filter and CamelBak, and I started out with three and a half full Nalgene water bottles (I borrowed my daughter's mini bottle which was handy to carabiner for quick access).
DAY ONE: Davidson Campground to Cedar Rock Mountain
We juggled which direction we wanted to trek Art Loeb, North to South or South to North. The weather indicated it was going to begin raining around 2:00 pm on Day One. We headed out the door around 6:30 am with a few hours drive and dropped the vehicles off at each location. We decided to hike the trail South to North, saving the best views for last.
Meg got a rental car, and we dropped my truck off at the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp after swinging by a drive thru for coffees and donuts. She had mentioned getting a map a couple weeks before our adventure and I, with my last minute planning, realized we definitely needed one the night before. After reading up on the wilderness section of the trail, I knew Meg was right about a map and hoped we'd be able to find one in the morning near the Davidson River Campground trailhead, where we would begin our journey.
After crossing a bridge, we were met with a detour sign immediately leading us up a forest service road that ran parallel to Art Loeb. Meg was tracking our journey on the AllTrails map and saw that we were still close to the actual trail but winding up and around the mountain following the detour signs.
Photo By: Megan Burnette
We hiked a few miles on the forest service road and found the official trail. Shortly after, the rain found us and the stoke was high! We broke out our emergency ponchos and rain gear and kept on hiking further into the woods with pep in our step. We had gotten a later start than anticipated after stopping into The Hub earlier to grab a Nat Geo Pisgah Ranger District Map- which I would say was essential for this trip. The mileage was catching up to us as dusk was setting in. We came up on something large, white, and shiny. I studied the mysterious object camouflaged by the woods, and Meg suggested it could be a hidden waste plant or some kind of underground facility. Then we thought it was like a large, actually humongous stretch of plastic preventing trail erosion or something. As we got closer, the object that came into view was in fact a massive wet rock face that turned out to be Cedar Rock Mountain- our magical basecamp on Night One in the Pisgah National Forest.
If you are a glutton for punishment you will enjoy every steep step up Pilot Mountain.
We stocked up on water which was a mini adventure on its own and made sure our reserves were filled. With all of the rain, the creeks were flowin'! We crossed through Butter Gap and up and over Chesnut Mountain. After coming down from what I believe was Rich Mountain, the trail started with a mini staircase that lead right into the climb up Pilot. We hiked over the first section, eyeing down potential camps for the night. The climb surrendered at a faux summit where there was an ideal camping spot tucked away in the trees.
EST MILEAGE: 8.7 MILES
BASECAMP: PILOT MOUNTAIN
DAY THREE: PILOT MOUNTAIN to FLOWER GAP
SHINING ROCK WILDERNESS
EST MILEAGE: 8.7 MILES
BASECAMP: Flower Gap
DAY FOUR: Flower Gap TO Camp Daniel Boone
EST MILEAGE: 9+ MILES
BASECAMP: Daniel Boone
The Dirty 30: Backpacking the Art Loeb Trail with My Best Friend, 2020
START ELEVATION: 2,150 FT
END ELEVATION: 3,222 FT
HIGHEST POINT: 6,214 FT
TOTAL TRIP ELEVATION GAIN: 3,000 FT
ESTIMATED TOTAL MILEAGE: 36.4
DAYS ON TRAIL: 4
*Shout-out to Ranger John & Anthony the mobile mechanic*
"Tennessee's Oldest Town"
SOUTHERN CITIES EDITION:
JONESBOROUGH, TN URBAN EXPLORATION
A Sense of Community
Support Local Business
And here's how to experience northeast tennessee like a local.
Traveler. Writer. Mom.
Great Adventurer of Life.