Go backpacking in Pisgah National Forest and find your perfect campsite within an hour of Asheville and Brevard.
As the first National Forest in the east, Pisgah is a premier destination for day hikers and backpackers alike. Whether you want to stay one night or many, these are some of the best hikes with overnight camping around the Pisgah Ranger District.
The grandfather of all hikes in Pisgah National Forest is the 31-mile Art Loeb Trail. While experienced hikers and trail runners may attempt a single-day traverse, most opt to split the trip into 3-4 days. The point-to-point trail begins at the Daniel Boone Scout Camp and climbs intensely to a ridge where you traverse through the Shining Rock Wilderness and to its namesake feature – a massive quartzite rock outcropping at near-6000’. The bald summits of Tennent Mountain and Black Balsam Knob are also popular camping areas for those hiking Sam Knob or Black Balsam.
Across NC-215 and just a short drive away, the Middle Prong Wilderness showcases a rugged backcountry that is rarely visited. Logging riddled the region in the early 1900’s and some sections of trail still follow the original paths. Similar, but less crowded than Black Balsam, Green Knob provides a phenomenal camping opportunity in a clearing with killer views of the sky. Expect limited light or sound pollution in these high mountain campsites, and don’t forget to tell someone of your plan. The adjacent Haywood/Buckeye Gap loop is even more solemn and provides primitive camping throughout the route.
Heading into lower elevations, the classic John Rock and Cedar Rock hikes offer abundant overnight camping options. Just to the east of the fish hatchery, a large campsite shared by both hikes is popular among groups for one-night trips. Where the Art Loeb crosses near Cedar Rock, several more campsites can be found. For those new to backpacking, check out the North Slope/Art Loeb route or the Daniel Ridge Loop. Both are great to introduce novice hikers to overnight camping without venturing too far from town.