Dare we say that Looking Glass Rock suffers from Half Dome syndrome? It’s prominent presence can be seen from virtually all viewpoints within the Pisgah National Forest. The granite walls of this 600’ Rock Pluton beckon adventurers from all around to come and cling to its’ cliffs. The outdoor paparazzi perpetually take aim at Looking Glass Rock from a variety of vantage points throughout the National Forest. Fair weather adventurers flock to the summit on pretty days by way of the Looking Glass Trail. Yet, once on the summit visitors find an ironic twist of fate, similar to the one found atop Half Dome, comes to fruition. Once you’re on top you lose sight of what everyone has come to see, Looking Glass Rock itself! The tradeoff, for losing sight of The Rock,is paid off in panoramic views and the ability to, one day, stand at those overlooks with an inner smile and acknowledgment that “I’ve been up there.”
What Makes It Great
Not all who venture into the Pisgah are willing to look The Rockin the face and get a close up view of its’ world renowned “eyebrows.” If clinging to cams and clipping to bolts isn’t your cup of tea – yet you still desire to summit Looking Glass – venture to the top on the 3.2 mile Looking Glass Rock Trail. This well maintained, and well-trodden path begins just outside of Brevard, NC on Forest Service road 475. The trail gains a total of 1,700 vertical feet on its way to the 4,000’ summit of Looking Glass. Lucky for your legs, a seemingly endless swath of switchbacks aid in your elevation gain on this trail.
Roughly two miles into the trail hikers will pass a relatively flat rock clearing with a large, painted “H.” From the air this “H” signals a landing pad for helicopter crews who come to rescue injured climbers. From the ground let this “H” stand as your reminder to watch your step during the rest of your journey! A spur trail leads from the back of the helicopter landing zone to the Lower Looking Glass Cliffs. Taking this short spur allows views of the main cliff face and a chance at solidarity from the crowds.
Continuing on the main trail, from the helipad, a steep pull will bring you to the summit where there are prime campsites but no view. Passing the summit, a short descent, will bring you to the precipice of Upper Looking glass Cliffs! The rounded face allows for an amicably flat sitting area on top with panoramic views. Once on top, lesser travelled “man-ways” can lead to more secluded vantage points. Exercise extreme caution in these areas especially during wet conditions!
Who is Going to Love It
The panoramic views will help any hiker quickly forget about the burning quads from the hike to the summit. Trust us, if you can make it up there, it will be worth it!
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The parking area can be found off of Forest Service Road 475 in the Pisgah National Forest. A 45 minute drive from Asheville will lead you to the trailhead which is on the right, .4 miles up Forest Service Road 475.
Access to the Looking Glass Rock Trail is free to the public.