Explore the most popular walking trails in Pisgah National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

We did this trail backwards and started at old butt knob, we took the first right in the trail instead of the one 4 miles in. I will say, I think the climb and elevation gain this way was much more difficult than heading to shining rock first. Nonetheless, the Old Butt Knob trail was in really good shape (the weather was cruddy otherwise I think the views would have been amazing too). When we finally made it to Shining Rock, we were both relieved since it was flatter and also astounded by the place. I will say the way back down through the woods and creeks was really nice although the waterfalles were behind us rather than us walking up to then which was somewhat disappointing. All together, I still think I would prefer going down hill that way than down Old Butt as that was much steeper and muddier. I would do this again though!

Enjoyed this hike. I thought the trail could have been BLAZED better. The ladders are very nice and the view is awesome. The plane wreckage from the 1970s was neat to see. This was my wife’s second hike and she did great. I will hike it again.

Hiked this trail with my wife and twin 6 yr olds this morning and we had a great time. We went up the northern leg of the loop and when we got to the top where it intersects the Mountain to Sea trail we decided to make a longer loop by taking the MTS trail south until it connects with Rattlesnake Loop trail. At this point we circled back down to the Rattlesnake Lodge Short Loop and back to the truck. This adds some elevation to the journey but leads through some very interesting low-hanging trees and added more variety to the already beautiful trail. Overall I think the elevation change on this modified loop including the RL Short Loop is about 700' and total distance was about 3 miles. We hiked it in about 2 hours total, taking plenty of time for explore, snack and take in the forest.

You can park on the road shoulder at the entrance to the Tanbark Ridge Tunnel off the BRP. There was only one other car parked. There might be room for 4 - 5 cars total but that's about it. The trail is well-marked (blue markers) and easy to follow, even in the fog and rain that we hiked through during the last mile.

Great Easy trail for beginners with a great waterfall at the end.

Short/quick, easy hike that is great for children and dogs. This trail is popular and usually crowded but a beautiful spot overall.

Was not expecting how truly steep this hike would get in the last mile. But it was worth every single step once you get to the top. My legs were really feeling this one the next day but if you are in the area this trail up to grandfather is well worth the day spent. It is truly a trail you will not forget. Just wish there were a few more views on the profile trail on the way up to Grandfather. But it sure beats the $20 to just do Grandfather.

Waterfall was gorgeous!

3 days ago

Really enjoyed this hike. Definitely one you start before 3 in the afternoon. Beautiful views from walkers knob!!

great falls.. easy trek

Be prepared for "are we there yet" questions. Good luck not asking anyone how close to the top you are. The hike itself isn't that tough, just longer than you realize. After a few false hope finishes, you will get to the top and feel like you just found the portal to middle Earth. Extremely rewarding view. Just remember, you have to go back down...finishing the hike back down is the most satisfying.

Steep sections with gorgeous views.

4 days ago

Short hike with beautiful views. Family friendly trail.

Beautiful Trail. Moderately trafficked. Stays by the river the whole time. A must do trail.

Signs or trail markers would have been super helpful as there are multiple forks. It was pretty though!

mountain biking
4 days ago

A nice little climb on the way up followed by some intense riding on the way down. Theres a pretty challenging portion with lots of roots, rocks, and sharp turns followed a much flowier portion next to a creek. I entered behind the stables and just kept making right turns until i made a loop.

Great views! It is a tough trail but worth it! It’s April and the vegetation is blooming, beautiful scenery!

Views are extraordinary!

5 days ago

I got to the trailhead just before noon on a Thursday so it wasn't very crowded at all (I saw hardly anyone coming back down). It was in the low 60s with a good breeze which was nice to keep from getting too hot. The first half or so is full of switchbacks and a steady uphill climb, though like others have said it's more moderate than hard. If you're not an experienced hiker and want a good test of your fitness level then this is a great choice. The view at the top is incredible and well worth the trip. It can get incredibly windy up there and the rocky endpoint of the trail is very steep so watch your step.

short but sweet

Looking Glass Falls is an excellent second stop after hiking the Looking Glass Rock trail or for those who really like waterfalls. The track shown on this page is misleading in that most of the "trail" is actually just roadside parking. When not too busy you can park right next to the falls and get great unobstructed pictures from there making this an excellent ADA waterfall for those unable to walk far or navigate steps. You can also walk down several flights of cement steps (not many) to get progressively better views and can actually get all the way down to the water. In April the falls were roaring and there was a lot of mist in the air, which felt good. Due to the close proximity to the road and the easy parking and access, this falls is a good one to visit.

The Looking Glass Rock trail is very popular and is advertised in local tourism magazines. The parking lot at 35*17.411'N and 082* 46.631'W holds no more than 10-11 cars. On an April weekday morning I was first at sunrise and the lot was packed when I got back down... so go early. The climb is scenic and goes up countless switchbacks so there is no place that is steep, but it's a lot of uphill. Near the top is a helipad at 35* 17.945'N and 082* 47.328'W that is right next to the trail. Next you'll reach the summit, which is an open, sandy clearing. Go beyond the summit and descend a ways to reach the viewing area at 35* 18.262'N and 082* 47.680'W. The viewing area is steep with no fence or barricade so watch the younger kids!. Due to an abundance of rocks and roots at the higher parts of the trail, boots are advised. And you'll also want the extra traction on the rock face. The view is exceptional and gives a 180* panorama to the west. For the classic view of Looking Glass Rock as you leave, turn left onto US 276 and go 5 minutes up the road to the Looking Glass Falls and take pictures then continue up the hill to the Blue Grass Parkway, turn left, and go to MP417. There is a designated pull-off and other nice views of Looking Glass Rock nearby.

Quick hike to a large waterfall, great place to take a family. There is also a small cave on the other side of the water at the falls!

Well worth it! It pushed me to my limit, but I would gladly do it again and again. I love this place! The beauty is unbeatable.

7 days ago

You can’t go into the lookout!! Major bummer. One of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done, all uphill the whole time. If you want a good workout this is it. Go prepared a lot of water and give yourself a lot of time to complete

Interesting hike. Segment along Swannanoa Creek is reputed to be the old stagecoach road to Asheville. Note interesting stone work at former bridge crossing and culverts. At least 2 Civil War era gravesites (see photos). Old roadbed remains but can be tricky to follow. Crosses railroad near upper end of creek. See my photo for actual track on the old roadbed which follows closely along creek all the way up to Swannanoa Gap. The Alltrails track is not accurate with regard to the route of the old stagecoach road!

nature trips
8 days ago

Beautiful waterfall!

10 days ago

No waterfall on the trail to the top, but the view from the top is gorgeous! Looks up at the parkway and black balsom area.

10 days ago

People should not bring dogs on this trail!. Some paths were very narrow and easy to fall. I have hiked in Oregon, California, Arizona, Australia, and New Zealand. I think this trail was moderate. Watch out for hidden stumps!!!

So far it has been my favorite hike. It was a beautiful day and early spring so the trees have not bloomed and you get a view most of the way up. I would say it’s on the harder side of moderate. I definitely plan to do this on again.

Fun little hike with gorgeous views, great for kids and dogs. The unpaved road up from I-40 is extremely bumpy, so it’s rather slow going, and we even managed to get lost on the way back down.

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