Let’s Hike: Pisgah National Forest, waterfalls and Sliding Rock
The famous Sliding Rock gets so much attention, visitors may overlook other attractions at Pisgah National Forest in Nebo, North Carolina. Two waterfalls worth visiting are Looking Glass Falls and Moore Cove Falls, both doable in a day trip from the Upstate. Pisgah National Forest also has an app that can be found at http://cfaia.org/explore-pisgah-app/ which may help manage your trip.
Looking Glass Falls
Pisgah’s website states Looking Glass Falls is the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina. Its easily accessible beauty makes this claim believable!
There is no hiking trail to Looking Glass Falls; they are visible from the road. Drivers will see cars parallel parked along the road prior to seeing the sign.
A long set of stairs to offers access to the water. A small enclosure area by the entrance allows those unable to climb the stairs a view with seating.
Steps are well-maintained but slippery. Tiny tots will need a steady hand. Wading in the pool below the falls is irresistible on a hot day. Many visitors wear bathing suits and river sandals. Make sure your plan includes towels, dry shoes and clothes if you next intend to hike later.
Moore Cove Falls
The Moore Cove Falls parking area starts just up the road from Looking Glass Falls. The sign is often blocked by parked cars, so it is easy to drive past it. Because there is no parallel parking here, the best clue to stop is noticing the difference in how cars are parked.
Don’t be turned off by a few sets of stairs at the start of the trail. The trail levels out quickly and isn’t as strenuous the rest of the way. Even my four-year-old didn’t get too tired on this hike, roughly 1 ½ miles round trip.
Moore Cove Falls offers a completely different visual experience. Unlike the rushing deluge at Looking Glass, Moore Cove is a wide, lacy screen of water just heavier than a drizzle with a large cave feature behind it.
Some intrepid visitors cross the safety rails to go into to the cave itself. Do so at your own risk.
Coming from the Upstate, I think Looking Glass Falls and Moore Cove offer plenty of activities for one day. Because some people can’t pass up a summertime trip to Pisgah without Sliding Rock, here are basic facts. (Just keep in mind that you may run out of time and energy for hiking if you go to slide.)
Full disclosure: As a kid, I thought Pisgah’s Sliding Rock was terrifying! Plenty of my friends loved it. Consider your child’s temperament. If your kids are young, or if they hate roller coasters, the Visitor Center staff can suggest other ways to beat the heat.
Kids must be 7 or older to slide alone. Younger children must slide with an adult. No “floaties” are allowed, only Coast Guard-approved flotation devices. The fee is $2 per person, and cards are not accepted, only cash or checks. Children under six are free. No picnicking is allowed at Sliding Rock, but there are designated picnic areas elsewhere in the forest. Arrive early to get a parking space. After heavy rains, the attraction may be closed. Call 828-885-7625 (885-ROCK) for information about weather and closures.
Pisgah National Forest is located at 1600 Pisgah Highway in Nebo, North Carolina.