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Shut-In Trail


A historic and iconic portion of the MST well-known in the trail running world.

Trail Running Difficult

26 km
1.7 km
824 m
4-5 hrs
Low Point
611 m
High Point
1.6 km
Shut-In Trail Map

Part of the nearly 1,200-mile-long Mountains to Sea Trail, the Shut-In Trail is a popular trail running route and home to a highly acclaimed trail running race that occurs each fall. The route is most often completed as a point-to-point, arranging for transportation from Mount Pisgah at the end. Most runners opt to complete the route from bottom to top—the same as the official race.


A sign at the lower trailhead states that the trail was "originally constructed in the 1890s by George W. Vanderbilt to connect Biltmore House with his Buck Spring Hunting Lodge 17 miles away on Mount Pisgah." The construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway required much of the trail to be relocated, but the original corridor is still the same.

The trail begins along the access road that connects to the Blue Ridge Parkway, but there is only a small pull off. Instead, park at Bent Creek River Park and begin with a spur trail that leads under Brevard Rd.

For water, a couple of seasonal springs flow across the trail as it passes Sleepy Gap, but little reliable water can be found above that point. Always filter or treat any water you collect.

The Shut-In officially ends at the Mount Pisgah Parking Lot, just a short walk from the original location of the Buck Spring Lodge. A summit of Mount Pisgah is frequently chosen to complete the route.

This is an all-seasons route, though the winter months can limit access, as the Blue Ridge Parkway frequently closes due to ice and snow. NC-151 intersects the BRP at Elk Pasture Gap and makes an excellent year-round option for a shorter run on the Shut-In. From the crossing, it is roughly 6-miles round trip to the summit of Mount Pisgah.



Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area