A Fall Evening at The Windover Inn Bed & Breakfast

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stairway to Heaven, Part 2

As long as the weather cooperates, our goal is to take one hike a week during our slower season.  So yesterday, we worked in another hike in the Pisgah National Forest about an hour from the inn. Like we said before, each trail we've hiked has been unique, and this was no different. We chose Looking Glass Rock Trail which is one of the more popular trails in the area. It is well marked from Rt. 276 and has a good number of parking spots at the trail-head. It is a 3.1 mile trail and is listed as 'medium' in difficulty. Doing the math, our round trip was 6.2 miles and took us about 3 hours. But we spent about 20 minutes at the top, so our actual hike time was about 2 hours and 40 minutes. We hiked on a beautiful February day with the air temp. approaching 70 and met or saw at least 10 other couples, so expect this trail to get pretty crowed from late April to the end of October.

Some trails have great views and dynamic changes around just about every corner. Others, like this one, are really 'destination' trails. The hike is pretty much an uphill slog all the way, so be prepared for a good cardio workout! The start is forested and crosses a small brook, then uphill along a rim trailway which closes down to a rhody canape after about a mile. At this point you will find a nice wooden bench. Take advantage of this for a brief rest as the next mile will be composed of 17 switchbacks of around 100 yards each! What this means is that the mountain you are climbing is way too steep to go straight up! At around two miles, there is a helicopter pad to the left (If you can commandeer a helicopter, go for it!) and a mini Looking Glass rock structure on the right side of the trail. One more mile of more root and rock steps got us to the top where a makeshift campsite welcomed us. But, we weren't done yet. For the first time, the trail headed downhill for another tenth of a mile and turned a bit to the left where it ended at Looking Glass Rock.

If we weren't expecting something stupendous, we would have been completely blown away! And if we weren't careful and just kept walking while talking back to someone behind us, we'd have been in danger of walking right off the cliff at the edge of Looking Glass Rock! Even knowing that something special awaited us didn't prepare us for the spectacular view, and the amazing space that the top of this rock presents! No words can really do it justice, so we have included some pictures. Even pictures can't give you the sense of vertigo that initially meets the hiker as they reach this spot. Have a snack, or lunch here, or just groove. The good news is that the hike back is just about all downhill!
 On Looking Glass Rock looking towards Big Balsam Knob

On Looking Glass Rock, looking towards the Blue Ridge Parkway

A front row seat for picture taking

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