Pisgah National Forest is a huge park and many of the top trails and sights are spread out. It’s a good idea to plot out where they are along the parkway so you save yourself time. In Part 2 we’ll cover the hikes along the Spur Roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway that are South West of Asheville.
Forest Heritage Scenic Byway/Route 276
There are two ways to access this spur, from the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Brevard area. Stop by Pisgah Visitor’s Center [1600 Pisgah Hwy, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768] to grab a map of the area and use the restrooms.
+Looking Glass Rock Hike, left at mile marker 5 onto Forest Service Road 475
I admired the bizarre and recognizable geological formation from afar on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
It is a pluton monolith, or a great mass of molten rock hardened under the earth’s surface. In the winter ice forms on its granite face and when the sun shines upon it there is a mirror like reflection, resulting in its name. I was intrigued and I knew I had to conquer it. From the trailhead the hike follows the yellow trail up to the summit, 1700 foot elevation gain, 6.5 miles RT out and back. There are switchbacks for a good portion of the trek. Once you reach the campsites you’re almost there. A short descent brings you to the incredible view on a sheer ledge – be cautious as it is a long way down, almost 4,000 feet.
This is a popular rock climbing destination as well.
+Looking Glass Falls, mile marker 5
Very popular waterfall, 60 feet tall, strong and broad, visible from the side of the road. Take the stairs down to join the crowd and get a closer look. Some adventurous souls were making the slippery journey behind the falls, others were cooling down in the water.
+Moore Cove Falls, mile marker 6
No big signs pointing to this low-key waterfall, but if you read the trailhead you’ll know you’re in the right spot. The trail is 1.5 miles RT out and back, it is relatively easy and your reward is spectacular after a good rain. A magical stream dropping over a rocky amphitheater.
This is a perfect place to cool down after a nice hike. Be sure to carefully walk behind the falls for a different view.
+Sliding Rock Waterfall, mile marker 7
This natural waterslide is a popular swimming hole. I didn’t have the time to go, but it looks like a blast! Minimal paid admission, life guards on duty.
+Pink Beds Loop, mile marker 11
An easy flat loop that can be bisected into a shorter hike. There are some discrepancies with how long the orange trail is, weighing in from 5-7 miles. Either way be prepared for a nice longer hike. The trail contains boardwalks through a rare mountain bogs.
Interesting flora abounds.
Horizontal trees make for bridges across streams.
In spring the rhododendron and mountain laurel pop, giving the trail its colorful nomenclature.
A nearby historic site Cradle of Forestry [11250 Pisgah Hwy, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768] explores forest conservation history and has hiking trails. Paid admission.