Blue Ridge Parkway | CRADLE OF FORESTRY OVERLOOK (MP 411)

Cradle of Forestry Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Cradle of Forestry Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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George Vanderbilt (of Biltmore Estate fame) once owned much of the land that is now the Pisgah National Forest. In 1892 he hired Gifford Pinchot to develop the practice of forest conservation in the United States. Pinchot had just come from studying forestry in Europe. During his tenure he developed practices commonly used today such as erosion control and tree planting. In 1898 he became the head of the Forestry Division of the Department of Agriculture.

When Pinchot departed, Vanderbilt hired Dr. Carl Schenck from the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany. Vanderbilt and Schenck would go on to found the Biltmore Forestry School. Today the remaining buildings are part of an outdoor museum called the Cradle of Forestry run by the U. S. Forest Service. For more information see the Cradle of Forestry website.

I bring this up because the forest you can see from the L-shaped Cradle of Forestry Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway peers down into the forest that was home to Pinchot, Schenck, and the Biltmore Forestry School. The best view of the area is just left of the identification sign, which is located on the long end of the L-shaped parking lot. What makes this overlook somewhat interesting is the sheer cliffs of Looking Glass Rock. When the mountain gets wet and the sun hits the cliffs head on, it shines bright like a “looking glass.” You will see this mountain at many stops on your way south. This is its most northern appearance.

View of Looking Glass Mountain from the Cradle of Forestry Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View of Looking Glass Mountain from the Cradle of Forestry Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Panoramic view from the Cradle of Forestry Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Panoramic view from the Cradle of Forestry Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway (click to enlarge)

There is also a view at the short end of the L, but the corner section is completely overgrow with trees and brush. Had it not been overgrown, you would have a view greater than 180°, a rare sight on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

View from the short end of the overlook at the Cradle of Forestry Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View from the short end of the overlook at the Cradle of Forestry Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway


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Last updated on November 11, 2023
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