Distance: 6.5 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: 1,700 ft. All seasons hike - great in the winter. Epic views of Appalachian Mountains.

This is a really nice, moderately difficult hike along a cascading creek, up switchbacks, and through wildflower fields. A couple miles in, you'll reach a helipad that is used for rescuing injured rock climbers - Looking Glass Rock is a popular destination for world class climbing. There is a small trail leading away from the helipad with nice views of the lower cliffs.

Continue past the helipad to the summit, which has a few campsites but doesn't actually yield the greatest views. Keep hiking along the main trail past the summit to reach the Upper Looking Glass Cliffs - be sure to keep a safe distance from the edge. This is a great spot to kick back, eat lunch, and enjoy the view of the Appalachian Mountains all around you.

To find the trailhead from Asheville take I-26 East until the exit for Hwy 280 (towards the airport). Head west on the 280 towards Brevard for about 16 miles and turn right onto Hwy 276 North just past the shopping center. This will take you into Pisgah National Forest where you'll drive 5.3 miles and make a left turn, following signs for the Wildlife Center. About half a mile on this road, look for a parking lot and trailhead on the right hand side of the road.

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • Layers
  • Camera
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Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
River
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Looking Glass Rock.

Not an easy hike but well worth the effort. Beautiful views.

Beautiful View From The Top

Didn't find many photo ops on the walk up, but the destination is absolutely gorgeous with the views. Beautiful spot.

Go lite and take your time

Pisgah is my backyard and I have hike hundreds of miles here and biked a few more. Looking Glass can get crowded, really crowded. Christmas I went up with a few friends to do some rappelling and climbing. I knew we would be spending the night so I just grabbed my 25 pound 4 day pack and started up without breaking it down. On a quick overnight I usually bring only the bare essentials. Once the switch backs started I realized my mistake. I had a four day pack with every luxury plus climbing gear. To say the least I was a bit slow and out of breath. It didn't break the trip and no matter what Looking Glass is worth the trip. Just be aware that it gets crowded. If it is hot make sure to bring plenty of water as the springs towards the top are unreliable. For a real treat after your hike spend a few minutes and jump in the Davidson River for a cool down. There is a rope swing very close but I'll let you find that on your own.


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