Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking: John Rock Overlook

This is a great little hike for those looking to explore areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The hike begins at the John Rock Overlook at around MM 419 on the left just after Graveyard Fields if you are coming from the Asheville direction. The trailhead is easily visible and heads off to the left along the ridge.

Cliffside overlook of Davidson River Valley

The hike is pretty easy and mostly level with a few short climbs and descents as you follow a ridge line that parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail is not marked, but it is pretty worn and very easy to follow. The trail is mostly closed in and covered in a tree canopy, but this would make a great winter hike when the leaves have fallen off the trees.

If you aren’t interested in a hike and just want a quick stop for a great view, hike less than a half mile down the trail and look for a spur trail on your right that leads to a steep cliffside opening in the woods. Here you will emerge along a steep rocky ridge with amazing panoramic views of the Pisgah National Forest and the Davidson River Valley. Here you will also get a great look at Looking Glass Rock to the left side and John Rock to the right.

Views of Looking Glass Rock and John Rock
Trail Candy: Wild Blueberries

The full trail is around 1.5 miles and comes out along a sharp corner of the Parkway between MM 418 and MM 417. There is no trail marker here and its difficult to see when driving. There is also no parking area here, so the trail is best accessed from the other end at the John Rock Overlook. You can also hike the Parkway back from here and enjoy some of the scenic oberlooks that are often missed when riding in a vehicle. The East Fork Overlook at around MM 418.3 is a favorite with sprawling views of the Valley below. You will also here the sound of water as it rushes down the canyon below. If you make a loop out of the hike and follow the Parkway back to the overlook the distance is about 3.3 miles.

Directions to the trailhead: From Asheville take the Parkway until you pass Graveyard Fields on your right and the Overlook will be just ahead on the left. Look for the brown and white Blue Ridge Overlook sign. You can also access the Parkway from HWY 276 coming up from Brevard. The BRP access will be on your right then you will turn left onto the Parkway towards the overlook. Access to the area can also be obtained by traveling up HWY 215, just make sure to turn headed towards Asheville when you reach the Parkway entrance.

This trail follows a high elevation ridge and is over 5,000 feet in elevation along the length of the trail. It lies near the Black Balsam and Graveyard Fields recreational areas of the Blue Ridge Parkway within the Pisgah Ranger Distrct. The Pisgah National Forest has many mile-high peaks, numerous beautiful waterfalls with densely forested trails. Pisgah is comprised of over 500,000 acres of primarily a hardwood forest with hundreds of miles of trails.

Please feel free to e-mail me if you have additional questions or need additional information and suggestions. Remember to practice ‘Leave No Trace’ and preserve these amazing natural areas. I’ve been seeing way to much defacing and misuse of our public spaces in the last few years. Don’t love it to death.

Leave what you find, take only photos and memories.

  • Plan ahead and prepare. Know the type of terrain and possible weather conditions you might encounter. …
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
  • Leave what you find.
  • Minimize campfire impacts.
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.

“In the forest, I hear myself better”

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