Hike Looking Glass Rock
North Carolina › Looking Glass Rock Trail
Added by Justin Costner
Distance: 6.5 miles roundtripElevation gain: 1,700 ft.All seasons hike - great in the winterEpic 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.
- Hiking shoes
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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.
Good Workout, Awesome View
The trail starts out with some pretty tough switchbacks and then flattens out to a slight incline till you get to the peak, then it's just a short downhill hike to the view. A very safe hike since it is usually pretty crowded and there is a helicopter landing pad at the halfway point. A very good view of the surrounding mountains that makes the hike totally worth it. There are also a few campsites on the peak that would be fun to backpack to.
Take a left on Fish Hatery Road just off of U.S. 64 west of Brevard, NC and there it is, a fairly moderate trail in the heart of Pisgah National Forest. The trail features amazing views of wooded forest and a breathtaking overlook of the forest at the peak of Looking Glass Rock. The mountain was once a part of the Biltmore Estate, but is now very well maintained by the U.S. Forestry Service. Perfect for any hikers, one of the best trails in western North Carolina!
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