Blue Ridge Parkway | LOOKING GLASS ROCK VIEW (MP 417)

View of Looking Glass Rock from the Blue Ridge Parkway

View of Looking Glass Rock from the Blue Ridge Parkway

View: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ / 5
Trails: Mountains to Sea Trail
Picnic Tables: None

If you have been traveling south from Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ve seen Looking Glass Rock plenty of times by now, though most likely you had no idea what it was called. Well, here it finally gets its very own overlook as it makes its first appearance to those traveling north from Cherokee. As a bonus, the view is clear of trees and other brush that block many of the vistas at the scenic overlooks.

Looking Glass Rock is one of the most distinctive mountains on the Blue Ridge Parkway, maybe the most distinctive. The mountain is what is called a “pluton.” This is a mass of molten rock that hardened below the earth’s surface. As the soil above it eroded away over millions of years, the hard rock—too hard to suffer the effects of erosion—was exposed. Today this mound of granite is one of the largest in the southeast. It gets its name from its sheer cliff faces that shine like a mirror when the sun hits them whenever they are wet. At nearly 4,000 feet tall, it is also a very popular destination for rock climbers.

All overlooks with views of Looking Glass Rock are facing east, which means the sun will be shining in your face if you visit these stops in the morning. Visit these overlooks in the late afternoon for the best photographs. The smog doesn’t help much either, so if you live nearby, come after a rainstorm. You’ll not only get a much clearer view, but you also might see the mirror effect on the cliff walls.

Panoramic view of Looking Glass Rock from the Blue Ridge Parkway (click to enlarge)

Panoramic view of Looking Glass Rock from the Blue Ridge Parkway (click to enlarge)

On the opposite side of the Blue Ridge Parkway is a trailhead for the Mountains to Sea Trail, a 1,150-mile trail that stretches from Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the North Carolina Outer Banks. It is not part of the National Park system, so I did not hike or review it, but you can get information about the trail on the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail website.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Outdoor Guide also lists an East Fork Trail as beginning at this stop. There is no other trailhead other than the one for the MTS, so if the East Fork Trail exists, it either branches off of the MTS somewhere down the line, or it is actually the trail that leads to the MTS.

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Last updated on November 26, 2023
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