John Rock (2-18-13)
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. This isn't to say you'll be alone, however. This is an extremely popular hike, especially in the summer. Access to the summit cliffs is via the Cat Gap Loop Trail, which makes a 4-mile loop around the mountain, and the 1.8-mile John Rock Trail which passes over the summit.
The hike begins and ends at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education & Fish Hatchery off NC-475 north of Brevard. I'd be hiking the loop in a clockwise direction, saving the steepest parts of the route for the descent. Despite gaining over 1,000' in elevation the climb to the top is never very strenuous and offers some of the finest views in the National Forest as well as a couple waterfalls as a bonus. On this cool winter morning I was the only hiker at the trailhead so I'd have this amazing area all to myself. So, off we go on one of the premier hikes in the Pisgah Ranger District of western North Carolina...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.284411, -82.791026
Route Type: Loop Difficulty: MODERATE
Hike Length: 5.0 miles Hike Duration: 3:00
Trailhead Temp: 45'F Trail Traffic: 10-25 people
Min. Elevation: 2,390' Max. Elevation: 3,320'
Total Vertical Gain: 1,150' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 230'
Trails Used (Blaze Color):
Cat Gap Loop (orange), John Rock (yellow), Cat Gap Bypass (yellow)