Hiking Grassy Cove Top from its base is a gruelling experience. The hike gains 2,680 ft. in 7.4 miles.
The route begins at the Big East Fork trailhead located on the right-hand side of U.S.276 immediately before the road begins its dramatic twisting ascent to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Follow the Big East Fork trail for about 7 miles to Investor Gap. Most of this portion of the hike follows the Big East Fork river itself. from Investor Gap, Follow the Art Loeb trail north to the Grassy Cove top spur trail that leads to the summit. The descent is a breeze.
** one word of caution about this route.
-cars in this area have been vandalized and broken into.
Big East Fork Parking Area:
-Take I-40 Exit #31 (NC-215)
-Follow NC-215 south about 7 miles to junction with US-276
-Follow US-276 south another 10 miles to parking area on right.
The parking area is located on the right just before US276 makes a hard left to make its steep ascent toward the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The route is steep and rocky. Water is readily available for most of the trek.
Locals continue to run moonshine stills in the backcountry of the Shining Rock Wilderness and they don't take too kindly to strangers. The bootleggers use the East Fork trail as an easy point of entry into the Shining Rock Wilderness campground. I have encountered a group of them who fired a warning shot from a pistol to let us know we were in their territory. If you visit this trail in the off season or witness people milling around the trail or river in non-hiker gear, use extreme caution.
Raingear, sturdy hiking boots (not shoes), insect repellent in summer, a water purifier and a cooler full of local ale back at the car for the apres hike are all essential.
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