North Carolina

Shut-In Trail

Difficult - The Shut-in Trail was probably named for the thick rhododendron thickets that make the hiker feel "shut in".

photo: Remants of the Buck Spring Lodge on the Shut-In Trail. Photo by Ken Hurley.

Length: 16.30 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Backcountry
Agency: USDA Forest Service
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running

See more details.


Location: Pisgath Road Near Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway between mileposts 393.8 and 407.4. (recertified 1992)
State(s): North Carolina
Counties: Buncombe
Longitude: -82.75329
Latitude: 35.40369

Driving Directions

Leaving the Pisgah District Ranger Station/Visitor Center, turn right (north) onto US 276. Proceed north 14 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and then 4.2 miles north on the Parkway, to MP 407.6, just beyond the Pisgah Inn. Here two connected parking areas serve the Buck Spring Gap Overlook and then the Mount Pisgah trailhead. The Shut-In Trail starts at the steps at the northern end of the overlook’s parking area, but a large sign on the right side of the Mount Pisgah parking area’s southern end provides a more prominent access point. There are many additional access points along the Blue Ridge Parkway; wooden posts with a white hiker symbol mark these crossings. The trail ends near the French Broad River, at the Parkway’s entrance/exit ramp for NC 191; paved, roadside parking is available there.


George Vanderbilt constructed it in the 1890’s for the purpose of reaching his Buck Spring Hunting Lodge from the Biltmore House. (The remnants of the lodge are near the Buck Spring Gap Overlook.) Since that time, this route has been converted to a hiking trail, and is now a part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (#440, white dot blazes). In 16.3 miles, the trail changes elevation almost 3,000 feet, and in places can be quite challenging. Except where the trail crosses the Parkway, it is a quiet walk through beautiful hardwood forests with many nice views of the valleys below. Despite its proximity to the Parkway, this trail does not receive much use, particularly along its southern reaches.
Approximate Elevation Change: 2,700 feet
Blaze: White

Additional Details

Width: 18 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: Soil

Average Grade: 8%
Maximum Grade: 20%
Elevation Low Point: 3,000
Elevation High Point: 5,000
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: USFS Trail Details

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Park Ranger:
Jeff Owenby
US Forest Service
1001 Pisgah Hwy.
Pisgah Forest, NC 28760
(828) 877-3130
[email protected]



Remants of the Buck Spring Lodge on the Shut-In Trail. Photo by Ken Hurley.

Remants of the Buck Spring Lodge on the Shut-In Trail. Photo by Ken Hurley.


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