Catch views of the gorgeous cascades of Looking Glass Falls, a roadside waterfall just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Brevard, NC.
LOCATION:Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC
OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 780 Trails Illustrated Map
Set just off highway US 276 between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Brevard, a tall, spilling waterfall cascades in a single, stunning, perfect drop from a towering cliff.
Looking Glass Falls is one of North Carolina’s most popular waterfalls, given its easy, roadside access and classic waterfall beauty. US 276 is a gorgeous drive, well-loved for its winding meanders through the Pisgah National Forest and access to the area’s most popular attractions, including Sliding Rock, Moore Cove Falls, and Pink Beds at the Cradle of Forestry. If you’re adventuring in the Brevard area south of Asheville, there’s a good chance you’ll pass this waterfall – and it’s absolutely worth a visit.
At under a half mile, round trip, this barely counts as a hike for most trail fans – but this waterfall is a must-see. Framed by a towering, blocky cliff, the waterfall drops in a beautiful cascade into a deep, clear pool. In warm summer months, colorful wildflowers and vibrant green moss blanket the surrounding rock, drenched in the nearly continuous, cool spray of mist from the thundering falls. It’s nearly fully visible from a roadside viewing platform – or descend the trail’s stairs for an up-close view of the falls.
Looking Glass Falls NC: the adventure
The short, but exceptionally beautiful, walk to the base of the waterfall begins at the signed trailhead on US 276 near Brevard (view maps and driving directions), catching its first views of the tumbling waterfall roadside observation deck.
Limited parking is available at the falls, so arrive early and visit on weekdays, if possible, for the best chance of avoiding crowds. Early morning fog and the rising sun make for a beautiful backdrop to the waterfall – and the unspoiled quiet of having the falls to yourself make an early morning visit especially worthwhile.
For an up-close view of Looking Glass Falls, descend the trail’s stairs to a middle and lower viewing platform. The area just below the falls is open for exploration, too – but the rocks surrounding the waterfall can be extremely slippery. Swimming is allowed at the falls, but swim at your own risk and don’t climb on or around the rocks or cliff.
The lower viewing platform and surrounding rock outcrops are great places to take in the waterfall’s beauty – and a gorgeous place for a picnic. Morning mountain valley fog, the waterfall’s continuous, cool mist and scores of wildflowers make this one of our favorite places near Asheville for a trailside breakfast and morning coffee.
Note: slippery rocks and fast moving water can be extremely dangerous! Please don’t climb, stand on, swim near, or jump from any waterfall.
More outdoor adventures near Looking Glass Falls
The area surrounding the waterfall is full of adventure opportunities. Hike the nearby Moore Cove Falls Trail to a towering, wispy waterfall set deep in a scenic cove. Head to the Blue Ridge Parkway to hike Skinny Dip Falls, a beautiful waterfall that cascades into a crystal-clear, deep pool that’s a popular spot for a summertime swim. Scale the nearby summit of Looking Glass Rock to catch stunning summit views from the mountain’s enormous, domed top.
Explore beautiful mountain bogs and high-elevation wetlands on a five-mile loop through Pink Beds at the Cradle of Forestry. Or catch a stunning view from a mountain summit on the Mt Pisgah Trail or Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail, both north on the Blue Ridge Parkway from its intersection with US 276.
Up for more easy waterfall hikes with a big, scenic reward? Our favorite waterfalls near Asheville under two miles are all spectacularly beautiful, without a long hike.
This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
Free roadside parking is available, but may be limited on weekends and holidays.
35.296333, -82.769583 // N35 17.780 W82 46.175