From the Appalachian Trail itself to smaller day hikes off the Blue Ridge Parkway, western North Carolina has no shortage of gratifyingly beautiful hiking trails. If you really want to let this beautiful scenic region take your breath away, look no farther than Looking Glass Rock.
Views from the Top
Imagine a striking granite dome nestled in the middle of gently rolling hills covered with a thick carpet of trees. This is the setting for Looking Glass Rock, a scenic landmark that attracts rock climbers on its steep face and has a fun back route to the top for hikers who’d rather keep two feet on the ground on their way to the summit. While views of Looking Glass Rock are beautiful, the view from the monolith is just as amazing, setting you up to take some amazing photos and enjoy a world-class view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Kids who enjoy outdoor activities love getting to enjoy the view at the top of Looking Glass Rock, and adults who make the hike with friends and romantic partners enjoy the opportunity to sit and reflect on the amazing panorama in front of them. This is a hike with a built-in reward waiting at the end of the trail, which provides great motivation on your way up and a sense of serenity on your way back down. Outdoorsy families should definitely add this beautiful destination to their Asheville itineraries.
Planning Your Visit
The Looking Glass Rock hike departs from a trailhead off the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway, the less famous but still beautiful cousin of the Blue Ridge Parkway. A steep out-and-back trail takes you from trailhead to the top of Looking Glass Rock, where you’ll turn around and come back down for a total distance of about six miles. The altitude gain across that distance is just under 1,700 feet, and while the trail features switchbacks that make the uphill climb a bit less dramatic, the final stretch toward the top of Looking Glass Rock does get steep. This isn’t exactly an easy hike, but it’s also not so difficult that occasional hikers with the right gear (including proper hiking shoes and plenty of water) can’t take it on. With such a great payoff at the end, the effort is worth it, and this is one of the most beloved trails in the region.
Though you can visit at any time of year, this hike is safest and most enjoyable in early fall, before ice is a concern and after the hottest weather of the year passes. As an added bonus, the incredible views from the top will be multicolored starting in late September and early October, and you may even see some small mountain streams babbling past that are usually dry in summertime. You can easily reach this trail from Asheville proper, or from the nearby mountain town of Brevard, which is only about a half hour’s drive south from the Asheville Regional Airport.
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