Looking Glass Rock

Brevard

Hike to one of the most impressive viewpoints in Pisgah National Forest.

Hiking Difficult

Distance
8.6 km
Ascent
521 m
Descent
521 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
703 m
High Point
1.2 km
Gradient
19˚
VIEW ON MAP
Looking Glass Rock Map

Description

The view from the top of Looking Glass Rock will force you to sit down and be still, soaking in the grand vista spread out below you. In the Appalachian Mountains, finding a viewpoint of any sort is a rarity—but one this grand, one this spectacular? Looking Glass Rock provides one of the best views in Pisgah National Forest, and possibly in the entire Southeastern USA.

HikeWNC.info concurs: "Visible from many locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway and found on postcards in every gift shop in the region, the summit of the rock provides a spectacular vista of the surrounding mountains and valleys. As such, this challenging hike has been one of the most popular in the area for a long time.”

“Challenging" is a good way to describe this hike. Despite its popularity, it isn’t an easy climb. You’ll climb over 1,700 feet in less than three miles, switchbacking steeply up the mountainside to reach the top of the rock bald. Some sections of the trail are well-built and have been designed to withstand the deluge of precipitation common in this temperate rain forest, but other sections are classic Pisgah: washed out into a big trench filled with exposed roots, rolling rocks, and loose or slick dirt.

Once you reach the top, take some time to savor the accomplishment of climbing this gnarly rock. If you see any rock climbers ascending the steep rock face itself, taking a much more difficult approach to the summit, don’t let that tarnish your own sense of self-satisfaction!

After a picnic on the slickrock bald enjoying stupendous views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains, begin your trek back down. Bear in mind that in some places, such as the eroded sections of trail, the descent will be even more challenging than the climb. Ensure that you’ve budgeted enough time to complete this entire hike—Looking Glass Rock isn’t an easy foray into the mountains.

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

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

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Features

  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area