This is a very beautiful hike, not too difficult, along the Blue Ridge Parkway Northwest of Brevard, NC. The out hike took us 5.85 mi. to Shining Rock Gap, where we set up for the night – this mileage included a little digression on Black Balsam Knob which added probably .25 mile to the hike. This area is extremely popular, and was a virtual highway of hikers. Nevertheless, we had no trouble finding a site to camp at Shining Rock Gap. The first mile is a sharp climb to Black Balsam Knob which presents some beautiful vista views. After Black Balsam Knob, there is a short descent along a very rocky gully trail and then an ascent to Tennent Mountain. From there, the trail descends very sharply into Ivestor Gap. From Ivestor Gap to Shining Rock Gap, the Trail is mostly flat rock and gravel bed. I saw no real signs of potable water on the hike out until we reached Shining Rock Gap. But on the way back, we took the easier road trail at the lower elevations which bypassed Tennent Mountain and Black Balsam Knob and walked along numerous water sources the entire way.
We should have known better for this hike, there was forecast a 60 % chance of thundershowers. But we had no idea that the entire night would be a torrential rainstorm with no letup. My entire tent and all possessions were totally water logged, which added a lot of weight to my back pack on the return trip. So we took the road trail back, and avoided the steep hike back up to Tennent Mountain and Black Balsam Knob. The hike back in was 4.50 mi.
I would highly recommend this hike, and I plan to do it again, perhaps in the fall. There is much more scenery along this route than I photographed, I just did not have the time to stop and snap every beautiful scene.