John Rock Hike Route Map

John Rock

John Rock (3,320') is one of three plutons that rise from Pisgah National Forest north of Brevard. The little brother, so-to-speak, of nearby Looking Glass Rock (3,969'), John Rock is a bit less busy option for a hike that offers the same outstanding views as Looking Glass.  Not that on this afternoon I'd likely have many fellow hikers in the woods.  The previous day had seen a surprise 10-inch snowfall cover the mountains of Transylvania County and travel, at least by local standards, was still a bit dicey.  I have a rule though not to waste a good snowfall in the southern mountains and so I was determined to get out and play in the white stuff for a bit.  John Rock offered a nearby option for a hike for me and, though I'd been up it many times, I had yet to climb it in the snow.  It therefore offered a perfect destination for me to spend a few hours wandering in the snow.

The hike begins and ends at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education & Fish Hatchery off NC-475 north of Brevard. I'd be starting by following the beginning of the Cat Gap Loop Trail in a counter-clockwise direction.  I'd then, about a mile-and-a-half in be turning onto the John Rock Trail to take me the rest of the way to the top.  Despite gaining nearly 1,000' in elevation the climb to the cliffs is never very strenuous and offers some of the finest views in the National Forest, which would only be made more beautiful with a fresh coating of snow. So, once again, I set off on one of the premier day hikes in the Pisgah Ranger District of western North Carolina...lets go play in the snow, shall we?  As always...ENJOY!!!

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  35.284411, -82.791026

Route Type:  Out-and-back                Difficulty:  CHALLENGING  (Petzoldt Rating:  6.70 )

Mileage Hiked:  5.0 miles                     Hike Duration:  2:45

Trailhead Temp:  30'F                           Trail Traffic:  1-5 people

Min. Elevation:  2,350'                           Max. Elevation:  3,200'

Total Vertical Gain:  850'                      Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  340'

Trails Used (Blaze Color):

Cat Gap Loop (orange), John Rock (yellow)


  • Cami Tidsworth

    on July 13, 2020

    Wow, I've never seen John Rock covered with snow before, that's amazing! I agree that this is a great hike. One of my favorite variations is to take Cat Gap loop all the way around instead of out and back to see an extra pretty valley.