The Shut-In Trail is a long, historic route which travels from NC 191 near Bent Creek and Asheville to the Mount Pisgah parking area. George W. Vanderbilt, builder of the famous Biltmore Estate near Asheville, constructed the Shut-In Trail around the year 1890. He used it to climb the Pisgah Ridge, linking his hunting lodge at Buck Springs below the summit of Mt. Pisgah to his famous Estate.
Although parts were obliterated with the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway, much of this trail still follows its original route. The trail was named by Vanderbilt for the ridge which it ascends, which was in turn named nearly a century earlier for the fact that it "shut in" the Bent Creek valley from the adjacent French Broad River valley.
Though the trail can be used as a long-distance route, it is most frequently used for short exercise and day hikes. This is generally necessary since overnight camping is not allowed along the Parkway (and 16.3 miles, with 3000 feet of vertical climbing, is a bit long for most day hikers). Those wishing to hike the trail with an overnight stop must plan a side trip onto adjacent Pisgah National Forest land to make this work.
Not everyone limits themselves to day hikes, though. For over 20 years the Shut-in Ridge Run has been using the trail as an event venue, on the first Saturday in November. Joggers cover the entire 18 miles on this run. You can get more information on the official website.
The trail follows the same path used by the Mountains to Sea Trail for its entire length.
There are many convenient access points where the trail touches and crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway, mainly at overlooks. Commonly used access points include:
- The beginning of the trail on the ramp to NC 191 (BRP MP 393.7, very limited parking) or park at the French Broad River overlook and walk back (BRP MP 393.8)
- A brush with the trail in Bent Creek at BRP MP 395.1 (parking here is road-side and somewhat limited)
- Walnut Cove Overlook, BRP MP 396.4
- Sleepy Gap parking area, BRP MP 397.3
- Chestnut Cove overlook, BRP MP 398.3
- Bent Creek Gap, BRP MP 400.3
- Beaver Dam Gap Overlook, BRP MP 401.7
- Stony Bald Overlook, BRP MP 402.6
- Big Ridge Overlook, BRP MP 403.6
- Mills River Valley Overlook, BRP MP 404.5
- Elk Pasture Gap/NC 151 Junction at BRP MP 405.5
- The end of the trail at the Mount Pisgah Parking Area, BRP MP 407.6
Since you're close to the Parkway (never more than about 1/2 mile) and not far from Asheville, expect lots of hiker and jogger traffic on the trail.
Here is a map of the Shut-In Trail, showing the location of the access points in the list above.
Download GPS Data
Click routes, trails, or points on the map to download them (on the GPS Data tab).