Want to get the big picture of Pisgah without spending too much time trekking through the trees? A kid/dog/lazy person friendly hike up Looking Glass Rock Trail is a great way to see it all without actually, you know, doing it all. The trail winds up on a series of moderate switch backs, past some nice rock faces, and dead ends at a spectacular summit frequented by rock climbers and photographers. For those interested in tacking on a little additional mileage to this 6.2 mi roundtrip out and back, the nearby Slick Rock Falls Trail (#117) and Sunwall Trail (#601) provide additional ways to enjoy this popular tourist hike.
Is it goat approved? No, but it is dog approved.
How you get there: Google Davidson River Campground in Brevard, NC. When you reach the turn for the campground, keep going. The road will fork sharply just after crossing a bridge. You want to go left here, and the trail head is on your right a few miles ahead. If you miss the fork you will unfortunately pass the heavily trafficked Looking Glass Falls, at which point, once you wade through the RVs and the minivans, you need to turn around and try again.
Time for hike: The distance for this hike is about 6.2 mi out and back to the summit. The trail varies from flat to moderately steep inclines/switchbacks.
Best season to do this hike: Year around. However, in the best weather you will have the hardest time finding a place to park!
Trails to Take
The trail head is obvious, well marked, and frankly, has a big freaking paved parking area and a huge sign. You can’t miss it.
The trail begins behind the sign, climbing first through foggy morning forest frequented with tended hemlock groves and hardwoods. The first switch back is just the start of the climb – the next 2 miles will be a continual steady progression up a series of switch backs until you reach the summit. At the summit the rock faces begin to appear. Keep an eye on those to the left side of the trail. One of these is the emergency helicopter landing location for air lifting out injured hikers who got a little too up close and personal with gravity. It contains some old carvings on the rock from some semi-historical destroyers of natural beauty too.
The trail dead ends at the final rock face of Looking Glass Rock, which has an impressive view when the weather is clear, and an eerie one as we enter the seasons of fog in the southern Appalachians.
- Come early as the parking fills up quickly and back in.
- The final cliff face is misleading – it is a sheer drop off, and that is NOT obvious if the fog is thick. Stay to the tree line or enjoy testing gravity the hard way.
- There are supposedly Peregrine Falcons that nest on the rock face. This may cause the trail to be closed or have limited access during nesting.
Mediation on the mountainside is the perfect way to start a Sunday.