Looking Glass Rock, Transylvania County (10-16-12) - dwhike
Scrambling (<i>carefully</i>) a bit farther out onto the ledges I could get a good look at the much higher cliffs yet to come...

Arguably one of the most famous mountains in North Carolina, Looking Glass Rock rises like a giant stone sentinel from the surrounding forest. Located about 10 miles north of Brevard in the shadow of the Great Balsam Range, rising a rather tame 3,970', Looking Glass is what is known as a pluton. In layman's terms, its composed of really, really hard rock (granite to be precise). While the surrounding hills eroded out, the rock of Looking Glass resisted these forces to a greater degree. What that left is the peak you see today with it's nearly 1,000 foot shear cliffs. Pluton's are by no means uncommon in this portion of the Appalachians, but Looking Glass Rock is definitely the most striking example of one.

Surprisingly, despite many years in these mountains, I had yet to climb Looking Glass. This was primarily due to the unfortunate by-product of the mountains' fame...heavy visitation. I figured if I was going to brave the inevitable crowds I wanted to do it during the most visually rewarding time of year...autumn. I picked a crisp, clear morning and got a good early start. To my utter amazement and delight I was the first vehicle at the trailhead! Someone upstairs was smiling on me this day and I was able to enjoy Looking Glass entirely on my own, no small miracle on this peak! So, off we go on what promised to be a truly spectacular walk in the hills...


Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  35.290991, -82.776671


Hike Length: 6.5 miles               Hike Duration: 3:15

Trailhead Temp: 45'F

Min. Elevation: 2,300'                 Max. Elevation: 3,969'

Total Vertical Gain: 1,770'         Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 545'