What a magical, mystical place this is! As Tom and I explored this area we often spoke of how this area must have been held sacred by those who walked before us.
An ancient " volcanic bubble" called a Pluton, this amazing piece of granite rises up to 3969 feet in the Pisgah National Forest. This 390 million year old magnificent beauty stands boldly in the Blue Ridge among the Laurel, Rhododendron, Hickories, Fir and Spruce. Covered in beautiful mountain springs, creeks, waterfalls and rivers, the rock gets it's name from the reflection of the sun off it's moist face.
Wildlife are prolific in this wild wilderness area of Appalachia. Through careful preservation practices, the peregrine falcon are making a strong come back in this region and are nesting in the rock.
There are many ways to see the rock.
You can see it from the Blue Ridge Parkway from milepost 417 to around milepost 411. You can travel down Hwy 276 South toward Brevard from the Blue Ridge Parkway and take a right on Forest Service Road 475B. This is a fairly maintained gravel road that takes you on a beautiful drive to see the rock. You can see Slick Rock Falls on the way if you take it to 475 where you can turn left to go to the Pisgah Wildlife Center and Fish Hatchery.
Trails to Touch the Rock
Slick Rock Falls Trail
Located on 475 B, access the trail behind Slick Rock Falls.
T & R Rating
Moderate due to the climb at the end
There are several hikes to the face of the rock. This a a quick one which includes an incredible waterfall. It is 1.3 mile one way, in and out to touch the face of the rock. It is 600 ft of elevation change with the climb at the very end as you climb up a stony slope and approach the wall. It is a magnificent wall. It's a great place to hang out for awhile and just be amazed. It makes one feel quite small.
Looking Glass Rock Trail to the Top
Access this trail head on Forest Road 475 between Hwy 276 and the Pisgah Wildlife Center and Fish Hatchery.
T & R Rating
Moderately Difficult due to length and steepness and uneven trail at times
3.1 miles one way
In and Out Trail
**Plan to spend lots of time at top, as there are many places to wander and access the face of the rock.
This magnificent trail takes you up, up, and then really, really up to the top of the rock with an elevation gain for 1700 ft. When you approach the top the trail will begin to even out as you begin to traverse across the rock. You will come to a Helipad on the rock for those who have not been so careful. Take time to wander and explore. Just be careful of the edge. Just past the helipad about a quarter mile, is a trail to the left that takes you to a wide place to be out on the rock face safely. Just avoid the wet spots as they are often slick. And, remember that granite can crumble and be unstable. The views from this rock are just incredible! The trail continues to the very top of the North Face. You approach it from the south and walk pretty much north. It's a hike worth taking. My "glutes" were screaming at me on thew way down, but it was so worth it!
Trail to North Face
Access this trail on Forest Road 475 B just a few miles South after you turn off of Hwy 276 S. You will come to a place where you can view Looking Glass Rock very well. There will be a trail head with a small parking space at one of these view points. It is a trail to the North Face.
T & R Rating
Easy to Moderate
Steep rocky climb with
0.8 miles one way
In and Out
This is short and fairly easy except for the short, steep climb as you approach the rock face. It's a great sunrise hike.
John Rock Trail
Access to this trail is at Pisgah Wildlife Center and Hatchery on Forest Road 475. From the Blue Ridge Parkway you can follow Hwy 276 S and turn right on 475 to access the Hatchery. Or you can travel from Hwy 276 S to Forest Road 475 B and continue south until you dead end at FR 475. You turn left of Forest Road 475 and the Hatchery is on the right.
Moderate to Difficult
7 mile Loop
Steep and rocky in places, especially as you approach the summit
Spectacular Views of Looking Glass Rock
This trail is accessed from the parking lot and is a combination loop with John Rock and Cat Pen Gap Loop. Study the map in the parking lot and note the trail blazes to insure you make the loop. The trail takes you to the top of John Rock. It is well worth it to take the loop down as it brings you by an incredible waterfall with a wonderful place to swim toward the end. You will cross the waterfall first then look for a campsite just down stream. It is a group site. Go down into this site and you will find access to a swimming hole at the base of the falls.