The mountains of Western North Carolina are filled with stunning spots to stop and smell the rhododendron. And thanks to the Blue Ridge Parkway, many of them are very accessible. The gentle winding of the road and stunning vistas create memorable moments 469 miles long.
If you’re searching for something more challenging than a roadside overlook, we have just the thing: scenic hikes that lead to unforgettable views of their own. Here are just a few Blue Ridge Parkway hikes near Brevard that offer unforgettable views.
BRP Milepost: 407.6
Length: 2.3–2.6 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Description: Thanks to the television tower sitting atop it, Mt. Pisgah is one of the most recognizable peaks around. And once you reach the summit, you’ll understand why it’s been placed there—This summit offers some of the clearest views around! But the views only come after some effort. Hike through the high-elevation northern hardwood forest from the parking area. When you get close to the top, you’ll reach the rockiest part of the trail, with lots of rock steps to climb up. Enjoy views from the observation tower to Cold Mountain, the city of Asheville, and Mount Mitchell to the north.
Fryingpan Mountain Tower
BRP Milepost: 408.5
Length: 1.5 miles, round trip
Description: Out of the frying pan and into the fire station! This short hike leads to the historic 70-foot Fryingpan Mountain lookout tower. From the Blue Ridge Parkway, follow the old gravel road lined with wildflowers and berries. (You could also take a longer six-mile route from the head of the Mt. Pisgah trail.) You don’t have to climb high—Spectacular views of nearby Mount Pisgah are available from the tower’s lower levels. The trail climbs 35 feet in elevation for nearly a mile, but abundant wildflowers make for pleasant hike to the top, any time of the year.
Looking Glass Rock
BRP Milepost: 417.0
Length: 6.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
Description: Looking Glass Rock is one of the largest masses of granite in the eastern United States. It gets its name from the shimmer and sheen of its surface after a rain. A 6.4-mile hike takes you to the summit of the iconic pluton monolith, from which it’s popular to rock climb or enjoy the panoramic views of Transylvania County. Just a few miles from this overlook, locals and tourists alike enjoy the cool waters of Looking Glass Falls and Sliding Rock. From Looking Glass Rock, you’re also just a short drive to charming Brevard or the Cradle of Forestry, a 6,500-acre heritage site that marks where forest conservation was born in America.
Black Balsam Trail
BRP Milepost: 420.2
Length: 1.4 miles, with options for longer loops
Description: Black Balsam Trail scales Black Balsam Knob and is one of the greatest hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway for its breathtaking and expansive views. Surrounded by wilderness, this tree-free “bald” mountain is an easy, family-friendly hike, ideal for picnicking or blueberry picking. Trek just half a mile out from milepost 420, and you’ll gain approximately 300 feet in elevation before breaking out of the tree cover at 6,000 feet. Reach the next bald, Tennant Mountain, by taking the Art Loeb Trail for another easy 1.5 miles. After your hike, quench your thirst with a Black Balsam Porter at Innovation Brewing in Sylva.
BRP Milepost: 422.4
Length: 0.9 miles, round trip
Description: This classic Parkway trail leads to the summit of the iconic, jagged, rocky peak with a sinister-looking profile. But there’s nothing sinister about the views! The Courthouse opens to full panoramas perfect for a romantic picnic. Stay later in the afternoon for an amazing sunset. While the hike up can be challenging, it is mostly paved. Near the end, a spur trail connects to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail going to the left. Continue up the Devil’s Courthouse Trail to the right and follow it to the overlook. On a clear day, you’ll have views into Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee.