Shortoff-Olsen Trail to a Sunset

Nov 3, 2018

Brandi, Joann, Lisa, Ed, David, Daina and I

It is always great to hike with this group! A great adventure always. Their plan to hike Shortoff (which I love) to the Olsen Trail (which I never heard of), to somewhere to watch the sunset(which I’m so excited for)!!!!

My daughter Daina is home on fall break and wanted to do this hike also. I was so glad because I would hate to leave her home alone 🤣. We met at the Wolf Pit road trailhead at 3:00. There were more cars there then I had ever seen. We had to park down a side road way down from the trailhead.

Ed showed me a GPS App they use called Avenza. I added it to my phone and downloaded the Linville Gorge Wilderness on it. I have never used a GPS before so this would be my trial run.

We headed up the trail and Joann was leading most of the hike. After a little elevation on the trail the views start appearing. I always love the first view of Lake James.

Just beyond the trail for the MST was a spur trail called the Olsen Trail. This a a lesser traveled route below the Shortoff trail with great views and steep rock cliffs. It runs the same route as Shortoff. Shortoff trail keeps climbing but this trail stays pretty level. It starts out quite normal trekking through the path then becomes more rocky. It’s not a clear path anymore but Joann is doing a great job leading. I’m following along on Avenza. She was navigating us along the route that was teetering on the edge. I was calling her our Sacagawea.

This is Daina walking along the ridge of this trail. I love this stuff but because it’s her it scares me! It’s a nice long way down!

Every Rock has a great view. After a few rock out cropping there is a place called Johns kitchen. There is a small cave here. Someone has also built a makeshift fireplace out of rocks. It’s a beautiful spot!

We sat here for a bit taking it all in and having a snack. These next two photos by Lisa.

Ed, Brandi and Lisa all went to take pictures with real cameras not their phones. The picture below is really great Ed took it! He took this beauty from up the trail a bit! Perspective!

What a great picture! When he was taking this photo he met two young rock climbers coming up. They were gone by the time we rejoined him. Another great picture by Ed!

We made our way down this trail. there is a dead tree on the cliff that most people stop and take pictures at. We saw it from a completely different perspective.

At one point we are following along the base of large rock walls. It’s an amazing site!

The next major point is called Unbelievable point. Personally I think they all are! This is a point where it juts out just enough to view the whole gorge!

Brandi and Lisa

Joann -aka Sacagawea at Unbelievable point

Daina, David and me at Unbelievable point

Just past unbelievable point was a huge rock that David climbed. He is super comfortable on the edge. he is on the top of the first pic! another great shot by Ed!

Brandi and Ed

That was basically the end of the Olsen spur trail. Just 1/2 mile full of awesomeness! We waited a bit while everyone got more pics Down below. Daina took this one of me up on a rock. This one isn’t high though it just looks like it.

From here we continued down the Shortoff trail looking for a great spot to watch the sunset. We walked to Shortoff overlook 1. We passed a lot of people camping on both sides of the trail. The “real” camera people went ahead to pick out a spot and the “camera phone” people to a side trail to go to the water tree.

We joked we were the B team! This is a tree with a spring running out from it. It was pretty cool although I was thinking sprinkler not spring so I was a little disappointed! 🤦‍♀️

We caught back up with them and they were sitting with the two guys who were rock climbing. They were from Raleigh and told us they learned how to climb from videos on you tube! Then went out and bought the gear and tried it. They were camping up here. We told them we were hiking back down in the dark and they called us hardcore. Really? You learned to rock climb by video and we are hardcore?!!! David later posted that what they meant was we were more hardcore than their parents! Bahaha!

Then the show began!!! It was a spectacular sunset. It was golds, then pinks, then reds. It changed so many times!


It was also pretty dang cold up there! Daina and I only had a sweatshirt to wear. Brandi emptied her pack and put on 3 jackets, 2 gloves and some hand warmers! By the time she had to put her pack on she had to let the straps out! It was too funny! There were people with campfires nearby and I joked I was going to make some new friends and I was sure they were my people.

I kept calling myself a minimalist hiker. That sounded better than severely unprepared hiker! Daina just said she would think warm, mind over matter! Once we start hiking again we would be warm!

When the sun went down we all put in our headlamps and headed back down the trail. I really enjoy hiking in the dark. That is, as long as I’m with a group of people. It’s just really cool. We passed all the campers with their fires going and music playing. There were even some families roasting marshmallows.

We walked along and chit chatted all the way down. After about a mile everyone started taking off layers. The temperature difference between the top on the edge and now was huge. It wasn’t windy either. That same view of Lake James I mentioned in the beginning was beautiful in the dark where Lisa got a great shot of that tree I mentioned earlier.

Some other night hiking pics by Ed.

It’s so nice when hiking with real photographers! Thanks for all the great photos! The not so great photos were mine! Another great hike in the books! Thanks for including us! This was night hiking at its finest!

5 thoughts on “Shortoff-Olsen Trail to a Sunset

Add yours

  1. What’d you think of the GPS app? I have been looking into a dedicated GPS (that doesn’t use cell service) on my to-do list so when the directions say to go like 500 yards and take a trail, I’ll know when I’ve gone that far.


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