Headquarters Trail
Shinny Trail
Shinny Creek
Log Bridge

Shinny Trail is a strenuous category trail 2.6 miles long. It begins at the Headquarters trail and ends at the Upper Falls trail. From the parking lot I walked .5 miles to the Headquarters trailhead and continue from there another .7 miles to the Shinny Trail trailhead just across from the campsites. After .4 miles is the trailhead for the Possum Trail and continuing on the Shinny Trail 2.2 miles I came to the Upper Falls Trail. This section of the Upper Falls Trail I had not hiked yet and although this trail is rated as strenuous I found it to be between easy and moderate. I hiked .5 miles to the trailhead of Jacob Branch Trail and continued another .6 miles to the trailhead of the Headquarters Trail. Taking the Headquarters Trail I hiked 1.2 miles to the trailhead of Shinny Trail where I started and retraced my steps another 1.2 miles back to the parking lot. This trip was a total of 7.3 miles. I took the majority of my photos on the Shinny Trail because that was the featured trail and I already have photos taken from the other trails posted on the pages of my other hiking trips.

Of all the hiking trips I have taken so far Shinny Trail is my favorite. There are many interesting things to photograph and when I become more proficient with my camera I plan to return and photograph the scenery that didn’t turn out this trip. I took 133 photos in RAW format and processed them with Corel AfterShot Pro 3. Of those I deemed satisfactory I ended up with 81 finished photos in JPEG format of which I post 79 in the Photo Album here.

Note: Click on the pictures for a larger view or here to scroll through the photo gallery consisting of 81 photos plus the map. The Photo Album will pop up in a separate window and there is a link at the bottom of the page to get back here but I suggest just closing that window. The link is provided for those who turned off allowing websites to open a separate window. The numbers in parentheses corresponds to the waypoint on the map generated by the eTrex 10 GPS unit.
  • Rocky Trails

    High Shoals Falls Loop (the first half mile), Headquarters and Upper Falls Trails are all wide trails suitable for the park’s maintenance vehicles. They are also very rocky as can be seen in the photo to the left and just below. This is very hard on hiking boots and street shoes would not last long if you intend on doing a lot of hiking in the park. In summary, invest in a good pair of hiking boots.

  • Shinny Trail

    Shinny Trail begins 1.2 miles from the parking lot across from the Shinny Creek Campsites (waypoints 7 and 35). The trail follows Shinny Creek for about a mile at 1600 feet before it starts to climb to the first peak at 1840 feet.

    Shinny Creek is strewn with boulders and rock beds providing many opportunities for taking interesting photos. I took most of the photos from the trail but there were several spots that you could stand on the bank for better photos. Exercise caution when doing so as the creek is steep in places.

  • Shinny Creek Crossing

    After about 900 feet up the Shinny Trail you come to the creek crossing. This crossing can be dangerous after heavy rains. See the short video on the Possum Trail page for more detail on this crossing. This day it was very easy to cross. Below left is looking southwest down the creek followed by the center photo which is looking NNE. The trail picks up after crossing the creek shown in the photo on the right below.

  • The Log Bridge and Creek Views

    A short distance later, about 400 feet, you cross the creek again. This time you cross over a bridge made from a single log with hand rails nailed to one side as shown in the photo to the left.

    The photo bottom left is looking at the creek on the right side (east-northeast) of the bridge. The other two photos are shots taken along the trail to show how dead looking the dying Mountain Laurel made the forest look. I do not know why the bushes were dying but I did notice further on one such bush with a yellow tag proclaiming it to be a killer tree (see photo 28).

  • Possum Trailhead

    After hiking .4 miles you come to the trailhead of Possum Trail. The sign below left tells us that Shinny Trail is now 2.2 miles from the Upper Falls Trail. The path forward was a little bit difficult to recognize from this point as can be seen in the photo bottom right.

  • More Creek Crossings

    I tagged the photo on the left at waypoint 14 and the two photos of the creek as facing south and then north. On the eTrex unit it doesn’t show me crossing the creek until waypoint 15. However the time recorded for waypoint 14 was 9am and the three photos here were taken at that time as well. I do not know what caused this discrepancy but as you can see in the photo there was definitely a creek crossing here.

  • And Yet Another Crossing

    Not only did I record my position where I took pictures as waypoints on the eTrex 10 GPS unit but I also recorded it in a notepad I carry. I wrote down that this bridge was waypoint 15 and that I took two pictures of the creek, one facing NW the other SE. The photos are time-stamped at 9:07, 9:09 and 9:10am. Waypoint 15 is time-stamped at 9:08am. Notice that the photo to the left is not as wide as the other photos of Shinny Creek. I am wondering then that if the photo is not of Shinny Creek but the branch named Dark Creek.

  • If you look at the third map (bottom right) in the Map section below you will see that I crossed the creek to the north side at waypoint 11 over the log bridge. I traveled south to waypoint 13 which is the Possum Trail trailhead and then supposedly crossed the creek at waypoint 14. That would put me on the south side of the creek and I would then have to cross over to the north side again in order to cross over the bridge at waypoint 15.

    I searched the Internet for topographical maps to help solve this mystery and found that maps generated by GPS devices show the same track as I have. Then I downloaded a PDF file with a terrain map of the trail and I believe I know what the answer to the riddle is. I added a yellow line to the third map to show the trail I believe is correct. I believe that the bridge at waypoint 15 is not crossing Shinny Creek but instead crosses Dark Creek. The track between waypoints 14 and 15 should be on the south side of Shinny Creek, not on the north side. Next time I hike this trail I will gather more information to see if my theory is correct.

  • Interesting things along the trail

    I believe the photo to the left is a Mountain Laurel and have no idea why it is tagged as a “Killer Tree”. Below left is a really cool fungus. At least I thought so. The one on the right is a bunch of fallen trees across the creek that caught my eye.

  • Fire Damage

    Damage from the fire that sweep through the forest in November 2016 is still visible today. Some trees were weakened and fell over earlier this year because of the storms that passed through the park such as the one in the photo to the left. The maintenance and fire fighters removed a lot of trees if they were deemed unsafe. I believe that is what caused the hole in the photo bottom left. The base of the tree in the photo to the right was burnt away yet the tree still stands.

  • Fire Damage (cont)

    Not much to say about the photo to the left other than it is way cool. I believe the top of the tree fell before the fire leaving the tree trunk that the fire ate away creating this artistic stump. A lot of the areas at higher elevation have not recovered from the fire and that makes the forest look dead. There is a lot of new growth in spots and the top of the trees are not severely damaged so I suspect the forest to be a lot greener next year.

  • The Green Stuff

    Despite the extensive damage caused by the fire there is still a lot of greenery to be seen. The mountain tops in the distance in the photo to the left was untouched and the tree tops in the foreground still have their leaves at the top. The huge knob on the tree in the photo below left caught my eye. The flowers in the photo below were growing everywhere in isolated clumps all along the trail.

  • Maps

    The map to the left was scanned from the South Mountain Park Trails topographical map published by the North Carolina Parks department. The map below left was generated by GPSMapEdit using track and waypoint GPX files from my eTrex 10 device and superimposed over a topo map downloaded from GPSFileDepot. The map below right is my theory on the creek crossing mystery mentioned above.