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The Glen Burney Trail in Blowing Rock is an amazing hike and leads to not one, but three of the most magical waterfalls in the High Country. The 3.1-mile trek will take you down and back up through the dense forest. You will feel so far away from the Annie Cannon Gardens across the street.
This trail is very popular and if you have never been before, we’re here to help with directions, tips from multiple hikes here, and photos of all three waterfalls.
This post is part of our series on awesome places to visit in Western North Carolina. We also included Glen Burney among our favorite spots to go hiking throughout the state, and in the Blowing Rock area, too!
The Glen Burney Trail in Blowing Rock
Background (Origins and Today)
The Glen Burney Trail is believed to have been originally developed in the mid-1800. It was used by Native American hunters and then by logging companies.
Today, the trail is a beautiful and easy escape just off the beaten path from downtown Blowing Rock. The Appalachian State University Blue Ridge Conservancy Student Group keeps the trail clear of trash and makes annual improvements.
Location and Directions
The address to the Glen Burney Trailhead is 243 Laurel Lane. For visual learners, our map at the bottom of this post shares the location of the Glen Burney Trail and some nearby places in and around Blowing Rock.
If you’d rather find the trail without GPS, head downtown and find Laurel Lane off of Main Street. The trailhead will be on your left with limited parking, but there is a parking garage on your right if the lot is full.
The Glen Burney Hike
The total change in elevation is just over 800 feet and it happens rather quickly. While the trail’s difficulty is listed as “moderate,” we found it to be among the most strenuous of the waterfall hikes near Boone and Blowing Rock.
Our Recommended Route
Our recommendation is for you to head straight to the bottom and last waterfall, Glen Marie. Then hike your way back up with breaks at Glen Burney and Cascades.
Highlights of the Hike
The trail starts out slow and easy with a moderate decline. At approximately a quarter of a mile, the trail becomes steeper and rockier, with more exposed roots. However, The trail is well marked and easy to navigate as you pass over the creek and walk by beautiful homes.
The first Glen Burney hike landmark sits about half a mile from the trailhead. It’s the ruins of an old sewage treatment station from 1929.
This assembly of concrete blocks that have been mossed over and steps that descend are all that is left. You’ll first see it from the top. The trail will then descend and switch back so you will pass the bottom of the ruins.
Of course, you (and we) came to see waterfalls, right? Just kidding. The journey is the real destination, as they say, and the Cascades is the first waterfall that you see on the Glen Burney trail about 0.7 miles into it.
The view from the top is stunning and tempting but the bottom of the falls offers a better view looking up at it.
Caution: We do not recommend every hiker head to the bottom of the falls. If you do, please wear proper footwear and practice absolute caution.
Glen Burney Falls
After one mile of hiking, Glen Burney Falls is the next waterfall that you will encounter. There is a side path to the right that has a newly constructed observation deck to view the top of the falls.
Continue on to the bottom of the falls by taking a right at the intersection. the waterfall will be a short distance from this fork in the road.
Glen Burney Falls flows 50 feet over a gradual rock face that is covered in moss. New Years Creek streams down the front and hikers can get close to the falls.
Glen Marie Falls
Continue back to the intersection and descend deeper into the forest to reach Glen Marie Falls. Many reach the top of this waterfall and turn around, but it is possible to continue down to the bottom.
Glen Marie is a 3-tiered 75-foot waterfall, but the upper sections of the falls are not visible from the bottom.
Backtracking to Blowing Rock (and Final Thoughts)
We think the Glen Burney trail in downtown Blowing Rock is one of the best waterfall hikes in Western North Carolina. It’s perfect whether you’re in town for a day trip from Asheville, spending the weekend in Boone or Blowing Rock (relaxing at places Chetola Resort).
Personally, we recommend going early in the morning so you can spend your afternoon relaxing, strolling around Blowing Rock, or exploring the rest of the High Country.
And speaking of Blowing Rock, the Glen Burney Trailhead sits just off Main St, across the street from Annie Cannon Gardens. The main reason we recommend an early Glen Burney hike is so you can work up an appetite eat at one of our favorite Blowing Rock restaurants afterward.
Town Tavern is one place that’s close to the trailhead and their burgers are perfect following the hike!
The Blue Ridge Parkway
You may have come into Blowing Rock via the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of our all-time favorite roads in North Carolina. The area around Blowing Rock is one of our favorite sections of the road. Moses H Cone Memorial Park (MP 294) sits just outside of town and is the closest highlight.
Map of Glen Burney Trail (and Nearby Places)
As you can see from our map, the Glen Burney Trail is surrounded by a lot of things to do. We marked it with a gold star and if you zoom in on the big cluster of things to do in Blowing Rock, it’ll appear.