Pisgah National Forest
The Pisgah National Forest is one of Western North Carolina’s greatest treasures. It consists of over 500,000 acres and almost surrounds Asheville. It’s separated into three Ranger Districts – The Pisgah, the Appalachian and the Grandfather. This page focuses on the Pisgah Ranger District. Click Here for a map. The Pisgah Ranger District is bordered by the Blue Ridge Parkway and is between Brevard and Waynesville, which both appear on our list of Top Mountain Towns in the area. The Forest Heritage Scenic Byway runs right through the middle of the Pisgah Ranger District. The Pisgah Ranger District is home to many more hikes and waterfalls than what are listed below. Click Here for more information on Looking Glass Rock, John Rock, Sam Knob, Skinny Dip Falls, Daniel Ridge Falls, Log Hollow Falls, Cove Creek Falls, Twin Falls, Slick Rock Falls, Pink Beds hike, Wildcat Falls, Courthouse Falls and Turtleback Falls.
Pisgah National Forest Visitor Center
The Pisgah Visitor Center near Brevard is the gateway to thousands of miles of trails, forests and waterways. This is the place to start your trip into the Pisgah. The Park Rangers will provide you with maps, information, closures and recommendations as to the best hike or waterfall to seek out. There’s a gift shop located at the Visitor Center as well. From Mid-April to Mid-November (Peak Season) they’re open daily 9am to 5pm. During the winter Season (Mid-November to Mid-April), they’re open 8:30 to 4:30 Monday thru Friday. The Ranger Station is located on US 276 just 3 miles north of US 64.
Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls is probably the most popular waterfall in the area. It is located along US 276 about 5.6 miles north of US 64. The falls are about 60 feet and there’s viewing platforms at the top of the falls and stairs going down to the bottom of the falls. Parking is right next to the road with a short walk to the viewing platform.
Moore Cove Falls
Moore Cove Falls is one mile north of Looking Glass Falls. Parking is alongside the road. It’s a 3/4 mile mostly flat hike to the falls (1.5 Miles Round Trip). There’s a viewing platform at the bottom of the falls and you can walk underneath and behind the 50 foot falls. There’s a sign warning people not to climb to the top of the falls.
Sliding Rock is a 60 foot natural water slide that is a very popular during the summertime. Kids and adults both slide down this natural waterfall with 50 to 60 degree water temperature. The temperature stays the same year round. It’s located on US 276 just north of Looking Glass Falls and Moore Cove Falls. During peak season (Memorial Day thru Labor Day), there are lifeguards on duty daily and there’s a cost of $3 per person. After Labor day, there are lifeguards on duty on weekends thru mid October. There’s restrooms and changing rooms available during peak season. During off-season, there’s no charge but the restrooms are closed.
Cradle of Forestry
The 6,500 acre Cradle of Forestry site commemorates the beginning of forest conservation in the United States. Dr. Carl Schenck, Chief Forester of George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, founded the first forestry school in America on this site in 1898. The Cradle of Forestry Discovery Center features interactive exhibits and a 28 minute movie that premiered in 2016 on PBS. There are three trails that take you by several historical buildings, a logging locomotive, portable sawmill and several of Dr. Schenck’s forestry experiments. It’s located on US 276 four miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is a 30 to 45 minute drive from Asheville.
Black Balsam Knob
Black Balsam Knob might be our favorite hike in the area. It’s the 2nd highest mountain in the Balsam Mountains. The Great Balsams are within the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are part of the Appalachian Mountains. The top of the mountain is considered a “bald” because there are no trees. You have a 360 degree panoramic view once you reach the top. There are several trails you can take. The shortest is only 1/2 mile to reach the top of the first bald. You’ll be able to see the trail continuing along the ridges in the distance. Bring a lunch and enjoy the view from the top. Black Balsam Knob is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 420. Look for the Black Balsam Knob sign and it’s about 1/2 mile off the Parkway.
Graveyard Fields is a very popular hiking & waterfall viewing spot located along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 418.8. The parking lot is located adjacent to the Parkway and right next to the trailhead. The Graveyard Fields trail is a total of 4 miles and takes you to both the lower falls and the upper falls. It’s a much shorter hike to view just the lower falls. The trail goes down several steps, winds through thick rhododendron bushes and over a bridge that takes you to the fork in the trail. Go right for the shorter trail to view the lower falls. Go left and walk about a mile to view the upper falls.
Mt. Pisgah & Pisgah Inn
Mt. Pisgah is located along the Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 408. There’s a strenuous 1.5 mile hike to the top where you’ll find some spectacular views. Located near the trail head is the Pisgah Inn which is has the highest elevation lodging along the Parkway. There’s also a restaurant and a gift shop a viewing platform and several rocking chairs to enjoy the view. The Inn is typically open from April to October. Just north of the Pisgah Inn is the Mt. Pisgah picnic area.
The Devil’s Courthouse hike is located at milepost 422.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Black Balsam Knob. There’s parking at the Devel’s Courthouse Overlook adjacent to this 1/2 mile fairly strenuous climb to the summit. The hike takes less than a 1/2 to reach the summit where you can see four states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. The elevation at the summit is 5,720 feet.