Looking Glass Rock Pisgah National Forest, NC
DIFFICULTY 11.2 Medium
DURATION 2-4 hours
There And
Back Again
Looking Glass Rock

May 18, 2020 - Many parks and hiking trails are open but some are still closed or limiting capacity. Call ahead to verify status if possible. While hiking, continue to follow social distancing practices. Stay safe people.

One of the most iconic mountains in Pisgah National Forest, Looking Glass Rock rewards those that tackle its relentless climb with stunning views from the bare rock face. The first mile of this hike is especially beautiful, climbing fern covered hills and passing churning streams.

The trailhead parking is quite small for the popularity of this trail, only accommodating about 10 cars. Although there are not restrooms here, if you drive back down US-276 toward Brevard about a mile from the trailhead you can find restrooms at Coontree Picnic Area.

Pass the information signs and cross a small stream. The first mile of this trail is the easiest, only gaining 500 feet in elevation. The path is wide and smooth, free of all but a few rocks and roots. As you climb this lower section, enjoy the gentle roar of nearby water, lush ferns and other foliage, and a general sense of accomplishment looking down at the switch-backs below. After the first mile, the trail enters thicker tunnels of rhododendron.

From here, the switch-backs get shorter and steeper, gaining over 650 feet in elevation over the next mile. Still not overly difficult, the trail tends to get a little muddy in some places. At mile 1.3, look for a curved tree forming a bench just off the end of a switch-back. This is Love Seat Pine and approximately marks the half-way point. The last .7 miles of this trail get considerably more difficult, navigating over roots and rocks that require large step-ups. Look for the open rock to the left at mile 2, which is used as a helipad for emergencies.

Continue uphill, reaching the summit, a small clearing with a campsite to the left. Nothing much to see here, so continue another .1 miles before reaching one of the open rock faces of Looking Glass Rock. Incredible views of the mountains directly to the north await you here. Whereas many views are of a landscape far in the distance, the mountains feel as if they are right in front of you, just out of reach. The rock is very steep along here, so if you explore around much, be very careful, especially when the rock is wet. Look and listen for rock climbers below as this is a popular destination for the activity.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Terrain Map Click to control map
length5.5 miles
difficulty11.2 Medium
duration2 - 4 hours
features Dog Friendly  Summit  Views 
trail typeThere And Back Again
elevation gain1680 ft.
park/forestPisgah National Forest
ranger districtPisgah Ranger District
1600 Pisgah Highway
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
parking feeNone
trailhead coordinates 35.290937, -82.776548 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°17.46, W 82°46.59 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°17'27'', N 35°17'27'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
35.290937, -82.776548 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°17.46, W 82°46.59 most GPS units use this one
N 35°17'27'', N 35°17'27'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
The rock face is steep and can be wet. Take extreme caution if walking around at the top.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (1)
hikethesouth-2 years ago
Great Views And A Few Switchbacks
The first section of this hike is really nice and tranquil with the sounds of water and lush greenery covering the hillsides. Then come the switchbacks. And more switchbacks. Then some rocky terrain. Then amazing views. If you're in the area, don't miss this one.
Medium | Hiked Spring 2013
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