Waterrock Knob

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A short hike to an overlook above the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
1.6 km
Ascent
144 m
Descent
144 m
Duration
0-1 hrs
Low Point
1.8 km
High Point
1.9 km
Gradient
10˚
Waterrock Knob Map

Waterrock Knob arguably provides some of the best views along the entire 469-mile long Blue Ridge Parkway. As one of the high points in the Plott Balsam Mountains, the parking lot alone offers excellent views to both the east and west, while this short hike to the overlook provides a sweeping panorama to the south.

Description

At the trailhead you will find two vault toilets and plenty of picnic benches to enjoy lunch with a view. The visitor's center is typically open between April and October, and the parking area has plenty of room for larger vehicles and RV's. This hike is also perfect for the entire family and is popular among locals and travelers alike. Contrary to most National Parks, leashed dogs are also welcome to visit the vista.

Though short, the path climbs a whopping 500' in just half a mile. It begins with a short paved section, then transitions to trail as it circles around the north side of the peak. Expect a decent serving of rocks and roots, as well as the possibility you may get your feet wet after rain.

Due to frequent winter closures on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is a seasonal hike best enjoyed in the summer and fall. In the summer months, the lingering morning fog and low elevation clouds make this hike especially spectacular. A clear vantage point to the west make it just as popular at sunset.

Difficulty

Moderate

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

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

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

Features

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

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area