February 6, 2015
My brother-in-law, Doug and I had planned to hike the Art Loeb Trail (ALT) for a while. He contacted me two weeks before the hike. “Would it be ok if I invite a friend?” “Of course,” I quickly responded. Later that day we texted again: “Which way do you and Dave want to hike this thing?” “Whatever is fine with us.” “How about south to north?” As I researched, I kept reading blog after blog where people started the trail heading south to north, but quit. I watched a huge amount of videos where people would hike for two days and quit the third. This started to intimidate me.
The ALT is a 30.1 mile trail that runs from Camp Daniel Boone in Canton, N.C. south to the Davidson River Campground in Brevard, N.C. By 11:00 am on Friday we started to hike at the southern terminus at Davidson.
Spirits were high as Doug, Dave and I began to tackle the trail. Our goal was to make it 9.9 miles to Chestnut Mountain, but we quickly added that Butter Gap would be a worthy objective too.
The ALT climbs up to High Knob from Davidson for about ½ a mile. The leaves were felled and rhododendrons abounded. Once at High Knob the trail meanders on level ground through Shut-In Ridge.
We passed several forest service roads and made our way up Stony Knob and then a fairly difficult ascent of Chestnut Knob. The trail descends quickly to Catpen Gap and then rises to Sandy Gap and amazing views of Cedar Rock Mountain.
We then descended to Butter Gap. It was 4:15 pm, so we decided to not push on to Cedar Mountain 1.3 miles ahead and made camp at the shelter.
The thing about the Art Loeb is that there is no water. Literally, I can count on one hand the number of water spots. We encountered one stream, but this was only ½ mile from Butter Gap. At the shelter there is a water source, albeit it’s one of the last ones for a while.
That night we had a roaring fire and the moon was looming wide across the sky.
Total mileage is 8.6 miles.