Big Time Geology in Transylvania County
With waterfalls, high peaks, canyons, gorges, and impressive natural rock walls, no matter where you are in Transylvania County, you’re just a stone’s throw away from unforgettable scenery. The area’s unique geology has created a one-of-a-kind landscape, loved by both climbers and hikers, as well as gorgeous views of iconic natural geologic wonders just waiting to be explored.
LOOKING GLASS ROCK
The striking white granite face of this 4,000-foot tall pluton monolith in Pisgah National Forest is one of Transylvania County’s most recognizable landmarks. Named for the way its face looks into the sunlight, Looking Glass Rock is visible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Black Balsam, and the top of Mt Pisgah. Hikers and climbers eager for a more up close and personal view can access it via a steep and challenging trail (6.4 miles out and back to summit) off the graveled FS 475 just south of Looking Glass Falls on 276. Trailhead parking is .4 miles in on the right.
The gnarled face and large size of this bare rock profile has inspired folklore for centuries. In Cherokee tales, it is the dwelling place of a giant named Judulla. More recently, tellers of tall tales have speculated that the devil himself made his home at a secret cave within. Whatever the case, it’s a stunning sight from the Blue Ridge Parkway that offers a short, somewhat strenuous hike to a summit with nearly panoramic views. Get a look for yourself from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 422.4. The trailhead is accessible from the overlook.
Visible above the Fish Hatchery in Pisgah National Forest, this stone-faced mountain offers spectacular views from its stone-topped summit. The five-mile loop trail is easy to access and winds up alongside Cedar Rock Falls on its way to the smooth rock summit. From Highway 276, turn left at the sign for the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. To get to the trail, follow Forest Service Road 475C to the left of the Wildlife Center to the Cat Gap Loop trail.
Another granite pluton, Cedar Rock’s stony face is a popular destination among local climbers looking for something a little less recognizable than Looking Glass or John’s Rock. Also in Pisgah National Forest, Cedar Rock is accessible from the trail system also used to summit John’s Rock. From the John’s Rock summit, continue to the intersection with the Art Loeb Trail, follow north to Sand Gap and the top of Cedar Rock Mountain.