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Waterrock Knob

waterrock8.jpg (5240 bytes)LENGTH: 1.2 miles R.T.  SKILL: Novice-Intermediate
PROS: Views 
CONS:
Steep, rocky climb
WATER: At parking area  NOTES: This is a great spot to watch the sun rise or set. On a clear day you can view most of the Great Smoky Montains.

Mile Post 451
Waterrock Knob Photos | Blue Ridge Pkwy Hikes

Pack up Grandma's wheelchair and a picnic lunch for this  combination of a scenic drive and a short but strenuous hike. A short distance from Maggie Valley and at a high elevation, this is a good escape on a hot summer afternoon.

Administered by the National Park service Waterrock Knob is actually part of the Blue Ridge Parkway. After driving up the short road that leads from the BRP you will enter a large parking lot that has panoramic views. On one side of the lot the view is east, on the other west. There is a well maintained restroom on the left side of the parking area. View from the parking area.

You don't have to leave the car to enjoy the wonderful views. For this reason it is not uncommon to see Church buses filled with senior citizens. On clear nights many amateur astronomers set their telescopes on the grassy areas that border the parking lot. The absence of "light pollution" here makes it a great place to star gaze.. with or without a telescope.

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According to the sign, the trail to the top of Waterrock Knob is only a half of a mile long. What the sign doesn't say is that it feels like two miles. The trail begins on the right side of the parking area and is paved. Although the first quarter of a mile of this very steep trail is paved, it is not suitable for a wheelchair. You'll have to leave Grandma in the car while you climb to the top.

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A split rail fence borders the trail as it climbs at a very steep angle. After a quarter of a mile there is a paved observation area. After this, the trail continues its' climb on a rocky trail. As you climb the views get better and better. The Spruce-Fir, or boreal forest that surrounds you show the effects of air pollution. The Park Service has installed benches at just the right intervals for out of breath hikers. If you drive from the relatively low elevation of Maggie Valley to the 5882 foot elevation of the parking area, you have experienced a 4000 foot elevation change. It is because of this rapid change, some people experience minor altitude sickness. The shortness of breath you may experience may be from this rapid elevation change.waterrock2t.jpg (3425 bytes)

After a beautiful walk to the top of the 16th highest mountain in the east, you may need to use the well worn bench at the top. At 6292 feet, Waterrock Knob is truly a high elevation experience. From here you can see South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. The Ghost Town in the Sky amusement park in Maggie can also be seen from the top. An overgrown trail that begins here leads to the neighboring Mt. Lowery. This trail is not recommended because it is hard to follow and has a steep drop off on either side. Be sure to carry up a picnic lunch, because you won't want to leave once you're up here.

Waterrock Knob Photos | Blue Ridge Pkwy Hikes

GETTIN' THERE

Milepost 451    From the Soco Gap entrance of the BRP near Maggie Valley, turn right and head towards Asheville. After a 5.5 mile winding climb the sign for Waterrock Knob is on the left.

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