FATMAP by Strava

John Rock


A classic route from the fish hatchery with phenomenal views from John Rock.

Hiking Moderate

9.3 km
406 m
406 m
2-3 hrs
Low Point
708 m
High Point
1 km
John Rock Map

Pack a lunch and bring the entire family along on this staple hike in Pisgah National Forest. Just a short drive from Brevard, this loop takes you to an exposed slickrock overlook with incredible views towards the Balsam Range.


The hike departs from the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, commonly referred to as the Fish Hatchery. Drinking water and restrooms are seasonally available, and parking is plentiful for larger vehicles or trailers.

The loop begins and ends at the parking lot on opposing ends. To begin the hike, follow the access road behind the building to the western trailhead. After crossing a gate, keep right and follow orange blazes on the Cat Gap Loop. From here, the route is very well maintained and easy to follow.

There are a couple of stream crossings that may require you to get your feet wet after recent rain. This is also a dog-friendly hike, but obey all USFS regulations and use extra caution atop the overlook.

To visit John Rock, you will need to follow the yellow-blazed John Rock Trail (#365) to the overlook. After a rolling traverse, several spur trails lead to different vantage points to enjoy the sweeping views.

To turn this into an overnight trip, primitive camping is available at multiple points. From the eastern trailhead, the loop quickly leads into a meadow that is frequented by campers.

Sources: https://wncviewhikes.com/dsc-john-rock/



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area