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The Art Loeb Trail, hailed as one of North America’s best hikes by National Geographic, offers a stunning yet challenging journey. Hike southbound to climb breathtaking mountains and rocky balds, cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and colorful meadows, and descend through lush forests. This 31-mile thru-hike boasts four 6,000-foot peaks, six miles of ridgeline, and 9,000 feet of elevation gain! Due to its length and diversity of terrain, Art Loeb often attracts avid hikers, people training for the A.T., and even ultra runners, but this backpacking tour was created with beginners in mind. Join expert local guides and witness the beauty of North Carolina as you create new friendships and master the basics of backpacking!

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  • Spectacular vistas

    Fall in love with campfire tales, rewarding hikes, and the iconic AT, and leave the tour with new backpacking skills

  • Biodiversity at every step

    Is there a greater joy of backpacking than waking up to the sounds of dozens of bird species?

  • Backpacking 101

    Fall in love with campfire tales, rewarding hikes, and thru-hiking, and leave the tour with new backpacking skills

Available itineraries

Group Art Loeb Thru-Hike

Join an outdoorsy group of people on a thru-hike through North Carolina! The Art Loeb Trail will take you on a 31 mi/ 50 km backpacking adventure, passing over four high peaks and traversing numerous meadows and balds. Hiking Art Loeb is especially beautiful in early fall with beautiful colors and less crowded trails. Master the basics of backpacking and use this hike as a preparation for bigger and more challenging adventures to come!

  • Our adventure starts on an early morning in Pisgah National Forest with a pack shakedown. Your guide will pass out gear and food and teach you how to pack your backpack. You’ll also go through what you’ve packed to make sure you don’t bring too many extra items. Around 10 am, you’ll head to Camp Daniel Boone (drive time: 1 hour) to start your hike! We’ll hike from the trailhead to Deep Gap where we’ll set up camp for the night. The group has the option to continue to the summit of Cold Mountain without backpacks. Once you’re all hiked-out, enjoy the campfire and a good night’s sleep.

    Meals: Lunch, dinner
    Driving: 1 hour
    Hiking: 3.5 mi/ 5.5 km
    Elevation gain: 1,750 ft/ 535 m
    Elevation loss: 50 ft/ 15 m
    Additional hike: 3 mi/ 5 km and 1,000 ft/ 300 m elevation gain and loss

     

    Close up of Pisgah National Forest sign in winter with snow
  • After breakfast, we’ll go through The Narrows and up and over Shining Rock, Tennent Mountain, and Black Balsam Knob before a descent to our campsite in an evergreen forest. This section of trail is rocky, rugged, and exposed, with incredible views all around! 

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
    Hiking: 8.5 mi/ 14 km
    Elevation gain: 1,950 ft/ 595 m
    Elevation loss: 1000 ft/ 300 m

    A man hikes in rain on the approximately five-mile-long Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain Loop trail in Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, North Carolina. The trail is accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo taken on Tennent Mountain.
  • As we cross the Blue Ridge Parkway, the trail gets less rugged and enters more rolling terrain. We’ll climb Sassafras Mountain and Pilot Mountain and cross several gravel forest roads until we reach our camp near Sandy Gap. 

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
    Hiking: 11 mi/ 18 km
    Elevation gain: 1,750 ft/ 535 m
    Elevation loss: 4000 ft/ 1220 m

    Tree covered hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina USA iStock
  • On our last day, we’ll continue over mostly rolling terrain and numerous creek crossings. The hike finishes at the Art Loeb Trail’s southern terminus at Davidson River Campground. Hike generally finishes late afternoon on the last day. Debrief, exchange socials with your new friends and head home for some well-deserved rest! 

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch
    Hiking: 7 mi/ 11.5 km
    Elevation gain: 800 ft/ 245 m
    Elevation loss: 2,300 ft/ 700 m

    Itinerary is subject to change based on a variety of factors, including weather, trail conditions, and participants needs and abilities. Please inform us ahead of time if you have a time constraint on the last day of your trip.

    Hikers posing on the trail Photo by the Guide
Private Art Loeb Thru-Hike

Experience a private, tailored backpacking adventure on the renowned Art Loeb Trail, hailed as one of North America's best hikes by National Geographic. This 31-mile (50 km) trek will help you master the basics of backpacking and prepare for bigger adventures, all with a personalized touch for a truly unique journey. This private tour is idea for anyone wanting to hike with the whole family or those who would like to hike the trail in the colder months.

  • Our adventure starts on an early morning in Pisgah National Forest with a pack shakedown. Your guide will pass out gear and food and teach you how to pack your backpack. You’ll also go through what you’ve packed to make sure you don’t bring too many extra items. Around 10 am, you’ll head to Camp Daniel Boone (drive time: 1 hour) to start your hike! We’ll hike from the trailhead to Deep Gap where we’ll set up camp for the night. The group has the option to continue to the summit of Cold Mountain without backpacks. Once you’re all hiked-out, enjoy the campfire and a good night’s sleep.

    Meals: Lunch, dinner
    Driving: 1 hour
    Hiking: 3.5 mi/ 5.5 km
    Elevation gain: 1,750 ft/ 535 m
    Elevation loss: 50 ft/ 15 m
    Additional hike: 3 mi/ 5 km and 1,000 ft/ 300 m elevation gain and loss

     

    Close up of Pisgah National Forest sign in winter with snow
  • After breakfast, we’ll go through The Narrows and up and over Shining Rock, Tennent Mountain, and Black Balsam Knob before a descent to our campsite in an evergreen forest. This section of trail is rocky, rugged, and exposed, with incredible views all around! 

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
    Hiking: 8.5 mi/ 14 km
    Elevation gain: 1,950 ft/ 595 m
    Elevation loss: 1000 ft/ 300 m

    A man hikes in rain on the approximately five-mile-long Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain Loop trail in Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, North Carolina. The trail is accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo taken on Tennent Mountain.
  • As we cross the Blue Ridge Parkway, the trail gets less rugged and enters more rolling terrain. We’ll climb Sassafras Mountain and Pilot Mountain and cross several gravel forest roads until we reach our camp near Sandy Gap. 

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
    Hiking: 11 mi/ 18 km
    Elevation gain: 1,750 ft/ 535 m
    Elevation loss: 4000 ft/ 1220 m

    Tree covered hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina USA iStock
  • On our last day, we’ll continue over mostly rolling terrain and numerous creek crossings. The hike finishes at the Art Loeb Trail’s southern terminus at Davidson River Campground. Hike generally finishes late afternoon on the last day. Debrief, exchange socials with your new friends and head home for some well-deserved rest! 

    Meals: Breakfast, lunch
    Hiking: 7 mi/ 11.5 km
    Elevation gain: 800 ft/ 245 m
    Elevation loss: 2,300 ft/ 700 m

    Itinerary is subject to change based on a variety of factors, including weather, trail conditions, and participants needs and abilities. Please inform us ahead of time if you have a time constraint on the last day of your trip.

    Hikers posing on the trail Photo by the Guide
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Meet your guides

Amy Hunsucker
5.00
Amy Hunsucker
Blue Ridge Hiking Company

Born and raised in South Carolina, Amy grew up hiking in the Carolinas. Her love for backpacking started on the Appalachian Trail with her first overnight trip in 2012. Since then, she has thru hiked all of the triple crown trails - Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail - along with other trails throughout the US, totaling over 8,000 miles of backpacking.

Adam Kampouris
5.00
Adam Kampouris
Blue Ridge Hiking Company

Born in the Catskills of NY and raised in the Blue Ridge of NC, Adam has always called the mountains of Appalachia home. Having survived a childhood of blissful, unsupervised galavanting through the local woods, he derives great joy in sharing his love of the natural world with others, and has yet to meet an outdoor activity he doesn’t like!

Matt Dobson
5.00
Matt Dobson
Blue Ridge Hiking Company
Having moved around the world pursuing other professional interests, Matt has decided Western North. He has over 12,000 trail miles on his legs, including thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, John Muir Trail, and Long Trail. He has a Plant Sciences degree from the University of Tennessee and has spent many of his hours in nature studying its science and history.
Blue Ridge Hiking Company
5.00
Blue Ridge Hiking Company
Blue Ridge Hiking Company
Blue Ridge Hiking Company's mission is to make the wilderness accessible and enjoyable for everyone. They strive to provide a safe experience with knowledgeable, engaging, and trained guides. All of Blue Ridge Hiking Company guides are certified in Wilderness First Aid (or higher) and CPR. They have permits to guide in Pisgah National Forest, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Mount Mitchell State Park, Dupont State Forest, all along the Blue Ridge Parkway, 120 miles of the famed Appalachian Trail and more.
5.00 (1 reviews)
N.Z.

The level of professionalism and attention to every detail is wonderful. This is a 5 star company and we had a fantastic time

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • An experienced, local hiking guide with extensive knowledge of the area
      • 4 Days of hiking and backpacking
      • High quality, ultralight, cottage industry backpacking gear
      • Meals as described in the itinerary
      • All necessary backcountry permits

    What’s not included:

      • Transportation to and from Hot Springs, NC
      • Transportation from the airport to the meet-up location
      • Accommodations before or after the tour
      • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
      • Guide gratuities — optional
      • Travel and medical insurance  — optional
  • This 4-day, 31-mile/ 50 km backpacking trip is ideally suited for hikers with good fitness levels and no prior backpacking experience. However, all hikers should have prior hiking experience and be comfortable enough on trail that they can hike for up to an hour on their own. Hikers using all of the gear typically carry approximately 25-30lb/ 11.5-13.5 kg, including food and water.

    Hikers should be active 3-5 times per week and regularly participate in active forms of recreation (eg. hiking on the weekends).

  • Your guide will send you a detailed list of everything you’ll need a few weeks before the trip.

    Here’s a list of things your guide can provide at no additional cost:

      • Backpacks (lightweight 60L pack)
      • Tents (one-person or and two-person)
      • Sleeping bags (20 degree synthetic sleeping bag with sleeping bag liners)
      • Sleeping pads (closed-cell foam pad) 
      • Trekking poles

    We will ask for your height and weight in order to fit the pack appropriately to you. Please let us know if you’d like to bring your own gear.

    Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

      • Backpack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 25-40L bag)
      • 2 1L water bottles (Nalgene or disposable Smart Water bottles are good options)
      • Lightweight hiking boots or shoes
      • Comfortable hiking clothes 
      • Warm spare clothes for layering
      • Waterproof rain jacket
      • Sunhat
      • Beanie
      • Lightweight gloves
      • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
      • Headlamp or flashlight
      • Sunglasses
      • Camera — optional (but recommended)
      • Inflatable sleeping pads — available for an additional rental fee

    Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. Please pack synthetic or wool athletic clothing rather than cotton. Cotton does not dry quickly and will not keep you warm when wet. For most trips you will need only one outfit to hike in and one outfit to sleep in.

    You will not need a new set of clean clothes for each day, make-up, hair products, scented products or deodorant. Just bring a toothbrush and toothpaste and enjoy going all natural for the trip!

  • Hikers are able to choose their meals and snacks from an assortment of trail-friendly options. That way, each hiker gets the types and amount of food that best suit their needs and preferences. Exact menu options vary throughout the season, but generally consist of the following:

      • Breakfast: oats or grits, coffee or tea
      • Lunch: chicken packets, tuna packets, meat sticks, hummus/guac, etc.
      • Snacks: chips, trail mix, dried and fresh fruit, cheese, bars, etc.
      • Dinner: dehydrated backpacking dinners (Good to Go brand) in a variety of flavors

    Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advanced notice.

  • Group sizes and pricing

      • For the group tour, the usual client-to-guide ratio is 6:1. 
      • It takes a minimum of 3 people for the group tour to operate. 
      • Private tours can be arranged for 1-9 people.

    Min. age requirements

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to join the hike on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.
      • If your group has hikers under the age of 18,  It is recommended to book a private tour. Contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
  • You can technically hike the Art Loeb Trail year-round, if you have suitable camping gear. However, the best seasons are late spring and fall. In spring, the wildflower blooms are incredible above 5,000 ft/ 1530 m, especially the pink rhododendrons, and you also get many daylight hours. Fall is a beautiful time to backpack this trail as the colors of leaves add to the spectacular views.

    Western North Carolina has a mild climate and chilly nights are a bigger problem than hot days. Spending the night on an exposed bald at 6,000 ft/ 1839 m will require good preparation as it can be up to 20 degrees cooler than in Asheville, NC. 

    You can expect torrential downpours in the afternoons any time of year. You might also witness fog rolling in from out of nowhere and obscuring the trail. Expect it to be windy and wet even if it’s not raining, so pack waterproof gear.

    This hike will happen rain or shine!  While it is incredibly rewarding, backpacking is an endurance sport, and it can be challenging and/or uncomfortable at times.  Maintaining a positive mindset, even when it is uncomfortable, is key to enjoying your time in the wilderness.  With focus on lightweight gear, the goal is for your pack to weigh around 25 lbs/ 11.5 kg (or no more than 25% of your body weight).

  • Your guide will meet you on Day 1 in Pisgah Forest, NC. To get there, most people fly into the Asheville Regional Airport, about 40 minutes away. You can rent a car or take a shuttle service to get to your meeting point. For those driving, parking is available at the Davidson River Trailhead. Your guides also offer shuttle service from Asheville to the meeting point for an additional fee. 

    You will meet your guide in Pisgah National Forest. The guide will give you specific instructions and location a few weeks before the tour.

  • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance. 

    With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more. Travel insurance covers canceled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans. 

    We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on tourism and safety in North Carolina, please refer to the official website of the State of North Carolina.

    If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

  • Deposits

    You can secure one of the set dates with a 30% deposit upon booking. The remaining 70% of the trip price is to be paid 90 days prior to departure, at the latest.

    Cancellations

    Booking fees are non-refundable in all cases. During checkout, however, you can choose one of 57hours’ flexibility options:

    Basic

    • In case of cancellation within 48 hours after booking, the amount paid is fully refundable.
    • For cancellations 60 or more days before the trip, you are eligible for a 70% refund of the trip price.
    • For cancellations 0-59 days before the trip, there is no refund.

    Flexible

    • In case of cancellation within 48 hours after booking, the amount paid is fully refundable.
    • For cancellations 60 or more days before the trip, you are eligible for a full refund of the trip price.
    • For cancellations 30-59 days before the trip, you are eligible for a 50% refund of the trip price.
    • For cancellations 0-29 days before the trip, there is no refund.

    Super Flexible

    • In case of cancellation within 48 hours after booking, the amount paid is fully refundable.
    • For cancellations 30 or more days before the trip, you are eligible for a full refund of the trip price.
    • For cancellations 0-29 days before the trip, you are eligible for a 50% refund of the trip price.
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