Shinning Rock Wilderness Area: Big East Fork Backpacking Trip

On Saturday, April 1s, we embarked on a new adventure. We believed it would only be fitting to complete a hike near Western North Carolina, so we left the in-laws in search of Shinning Rock Wilderness Area. This section of the Pisgah National Forest was closed the last time we traveled here due to the Cold Mountain fire. All in all, there are plenty of spaces for parking for day hikes or longer distances. Our trip included the usual companions: my wife, my father in-law, myself and our dog companions Riley and Cody. To aid us in our hike, we used Gaia GPS (downloaded for iOS on the weekend’s endeavour) due to the SRWA’s lack of trail markings. There aren’t many trail maps available, and for the most part you can search the internet for various gps tracks. Cheers to adventure!

The trailhead sign remind you to utilize Leave No Trace principals and in this area it is required to use a bear proof container. There is a map posted and from there one might be able to remember where to go. The good thing about this hike is, even though it isn’t marked, the trail is foot marked fairly well. Ultimately, the trail walks beside the river for most of the trip and passes over small branches and runoffs. There are many great river bends and scenery to get lost in.

Often times, there are many places where one would have to scramble over rocks to keep up with the trail. Though not overly difficult, most people would be able to keep up with the changes in terrain.

After hiking for 3 hours (we took a 30 minute lunch at one of the rock scrambles to enjoy the river flowing by) we arrived at the campsite after completing an estimated 4 miles. As always, as soon as we hit the campsite area, I began setting up the tents, getting the chair out and started getting ready to relax.

Dan was trying out his brand new Copper Spur HV 2 UL by Big Agnes. The material is super nice, lightweight, but seemed really thin, but this is common for the basic consumer who isn’t use to ultralight options.

After setting up camp, we all proceeded to set up to read a book. Ashley likes the smell of paperback while the rest of us used some version of a Kindle. After some relax time, we decided to filter water. I enjoyed the ease of my Katadyn Hiker to treat all my water needs. Dan was using his Sawyer Mini for the first time. Though we tried squeezing it, I found it to be slow and ineffective. We set up the dirty water as a gravity feed system to check its effectiveness. Ultimately, I think my Katadyn Hiker works great and worth the weight, but I am strongly considering additional research into the MSR Trailshot.

We cheated once again for dinner, we are still hanging on to the Mountain House chicken and mash potatoes for ease of cooking. Dan was also trying out his brand new MSR Pocket Rocket 2 stove. For small amounts of water (1L or less), it seems to be extremely effective and quick. It is louder than my Whisperlite Universal, but for the weight conscious packer who isn’t gourmet cooking, the pocket rocket 2 is a great stove that uses canister fuel.

We hit the hay and slept through the night. The sun came up, breakfast was had, and the trail we hit!

We hiked back without any problems, there are a couple of small water crossings so be prepared for that. The trip finished with about 6 hours of trail time and approximately 9.28 miles. Just as a point of reference, we have been using a Fitbit Charge 2 and Blaze for all of our elevation an mileage tracking which isn’t always the best for accuracy.

Just a forewarning, the trail isn’t wide, primary a single track in most areas and often undercut, but is fairly manageable. Overall, I enjoyed the entire trip, and sleeping by the river just rocked me to sleep. I honestly can’t wait to for our next trip.


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