Hike to Abandoned Cessna 414A

Waterrock Knob Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Caleb Adcock

Ever hiked to an abandoned plane in the middle of the woods? Yeah me neither until I heard of this gem.

This is an AWESOME day hike for anyone looking to get outside for a few hours and see some special views of the blue ridges, as well as check out the abandoned plane crash of a Cessna 414A that happened back in 1983. The remains of the plane are still scattered along the hillside making it a super neat place to explore and photograph. 

You start from the parking lot of the Waterrock Knob overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 451.2). You take the Waterrock Knob Trailhead, which begins as a paved path, eventually turning into the dirt trail as you climb. For those looking for a very short hike, there is an overlook about .2/mile up that looks out over the parking lot and shows some good views of the mountains. If you continue another .3/mile you will reach the summit of the Waterrock Knob Trail, looking out with views of both Waynesville and Cherokee. About 50 yards from the summit on the left-hand side there is a small trail that appears to go back down the mountain. This is the trail to the place crash. After 75 yards or so down this trail there will be a small sign posted on a tree, detailing the Plott Balsam Trail. Information such a difficulty and length are also on it so make sure you are aware of your time and ability before continuing. This is a lightly marked trail as it is not maintained by the National Park Service. 

The trail continues down the mountain for a little ways before becoming more ridge walking/ climbing. It is a pretty technical hike, requiring you to take big steps over roots, climbing over big rocks and squeezing under fallen tress. At times it is pretty steep and muddy so be ready to get dirty and have a little fun sliding. The signage posted at the beginning of the trail says it is about .7/miles from the summit of Waterrock Knob but with some mud and snow, I was able to make it in less than 30 minutes. You will eventually emerge from the woods onto a bald-like hill, with low shrubbery and smaller trees, with a pine forest to your left. The bald opens up a little and there will be a small trail that goes down the bald on the left side into the pine forest. The plane crash is sitting just below the tree-line, about 200 yards from the top of the bald. 

There was everyone from older people in their 60's to kids with their families doing this hike! The most important thing is to know your ability and what you are capable of or go with someone that does, and anyone can do this hike!

NOTES:

Tell someone where you're going before you head out! With this trail being individually maintained apart from the NPS, the trail markings can be faint depending on when you go! The technicality of the trail can cause some unexpected slips or accidents even for the most experienced hikers so take a buddy or leave a note about where you went!

Leave this place better than you found it! Don't spray paint the plane or other parts of the trail for fun! Other people want to check it out too and I don't think they're hiking to see your name on the side of the plane (@Lauren).

You'll get dirty on this hike so have fun with it! The more mud you come out with the better the hike was!

Distance

2.5 Miles RT

Type

Out-and-Back

Activities

Photography, Hiking

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Scenic

Nearby Lodging

Cherokee / Great Smokies KOA

Cherokee, North Carolina

Asheville West KOA

Candler, North Carolina

From $194/night

Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

amazing

this was incredible. the views from the summit were an extremely pleasant surprise, and the hike to the plane was so much fun. difficult but not long. the whole home took us around an hour. many steep inclines and trees down. it was so fun. easily the best part of the trip. nobody was on the trail but it wasn’t difficult to follow. there are markers on the trial.

So fun !!

This was an awesome hike!! Not hard to find the trail and for the most part you can see the markers and tell where the trail is. We had a blast !

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