Blue Ridge Parkway | WATERROCK KNOB TRAIL (451.2)

Start of the Waterrock Knob Trail at the Waterrock Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Start of the Waterrock Knob Trail at the Waterrock Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Length: 1 mile, round trip
Time: 45 minutes
Difficulty: Strenuous

The Waterrock Knob Trail is located in the parking lot of the Waterrock Knob Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail is very similar to the Devil’s Courthouse Trail in that it reaches the top of a mountain in the most direct route possible—straight up a very steep hill. The views are comparable, but this one is not quite as good as that at Devil’s Courthouse, which I feel is the best on the Parkway.

The trail starts off on a paved path that runs for .2 mile of the .5-mile trail length. A paved path is usually associated with an easy trail suitable for everyone, but don’t let that fool you here. This thing is practically straight up. If you don’t lean forward you might flip over backwards and cartwheel all the way back to the start! However, don’t let this stop you from hiking the trail unless you are really in bad physical condition. I saw two kids no older than five years old make the hike up and down the mountain.

The uphill climb on the Waterrock Knob Trail to the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The uphill climb on the Waterrock Knob Trail to the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Near the end of the pavement is a stone viewing platform. The view is decent from here, but like many overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway, trees have grown up over the years to block the vista. A much better view awaits at the top, so you’ll have to keep on hiking.

View from the stone viewing platform at the end of the paved section of the Blue Ridge Parkway's Waterrock Knob Trail

View from the stone viewing platform at the end of the paved section of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Waterrock Knob Trail

Once past the viewing platform the trail becomes extremely rocky.

Rough terrain of the unpaved portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway's Waterrock Knob Trail

Rough terrain of the unpaved portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Waterrock Knob Trail

Waterrock Knob Trail is one of those trails that just never stops going up. You turn a corner thinking you are at the top only to find that the steep climb continues. I have photographed many steep trails, and it is usually hard to convey through a two dimensional image just how steep things are, but here, you start breathing heavy and breaking into a sweat just looking at the photos.

Photos covey the steepness of the ascent to the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway's Waterrock Knob Trail

Photos covey the steepness of the ascent to the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Waterrock Knob Trail

Once you arrive at the top you will have a nice view, but don’t stop there. The trail continues downhill and eventually disintegrates into a patch of trees and roots. There is no trail at this point, so just make your way to the large boulders on the far side. This is where you will get the view that you hiked all this way for. It just goes to show that you must work hard for good things.

Make your way across this patch of roots and trees to the viewing area at the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Make your way across this patch of roots and trees to the viewing area at the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

At this altitude you are high above many of the mountains below. You will be looking into a horseshoe-shaped valley and can even see the Blue Ridge Parkway as it tracks around a curve. You don’t have the nearly 360° view that you have at Devil’s Courthouse, but it is impressive nonetheless.

Panoramic view from the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway (click to enlarge)

Panoramic view from the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway (click to enlarge)

View from the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View from the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View from the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

View from the top of Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Waterrock Knob Trail is an out-and-back trail, so when done taking in the scenic views, return back down the mountain the way you came. The trip down is when the trail truly becomes a pain in the butt. Watch your step, for it is easy to twist an ankle on this rocky terrain.

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Last updated on December 19, 2023
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