Slick Rock Falls Trail (11-23-18)
The Slick Rock Falls Trail is one of three official foot paths which provide access to the base of Looking Glass Rock and the only one to approach it from the west. The trail is named for a pretty waterfall located just a few hundred yards from the parking area. The falls are why a majority of people seek out this path but, trust me, the full hike to the base of the cliffs should also be included if you decide to go. The trail starts from a large pull-off along a wide curve on Forest Road 475-B. This parking area fills up quickly on the weekends so an early start is a good idea. From the road the trail ascends quite steeply as it ascends the ridge up to and beyond Slick Rock Falls. The falls is reached within a few minutes and is worth a stop, especially if there has been a decent rain lately (during dry periods the waterfall can all but dry up). The moderately steep trail switches back a couple times before topping out and beginning a more gradual ascent up the narrow, rhododendron-choked drainage of Slick Rock Creek. Before long, though, the path breaks free of the creek and the grade begins to increase again. The great dome of Looking Glass begins to appear ahead and above through the trees at this point. Shortly before reaching the cliffs the trail gets seriously steep and rugged as it enters the large boulderfield at the base of Looking Glass. The trail makes a couple sharp turns here so keep a close eye out for blazes to keep on the right track. The cliffs themselves are incredible to see. Stretching away to the right and left is a shear wall of rock over 400 feet high. Slightly curving as it goes up, the top crest of the cliffs is hidden from view but their size is still immense. Odds are there will be a few rock climbers scattered across the cliff face as well. In fact, due to the popularity of climbing here, there are a number of paths leading off along the base of the cliffs which beckon further exploration.
Overall this trail is a nice, moderately strenuous, way to see Looking Glass Rock from below. The majority of the hike isn't altogether that scenic but with a waterfall at one end and 400 foot cliffs at the other its more than worthy of a visit if you happen to be in the area. So without further adieu I present to you a visit to the base of Transylvania County's most famous pluton via the Slick Rock Falls Trail...as always, ENJOY!!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.293287, -82.798126
Route Type: Out-and-back Difficulty: MODERATE
Hike Length: 2.0 miles Hike Duration: 1:00
Trailhead Temp: 40'F Trail Traffic: 10-25 people
Min. Elevation: 2,650' Max. Elevation: 3,300'
Total Vertical Gain: 650' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 650' (approach)
Trails Used (blaze color): Slick Rock Falls Trail (yellow)