Last Updated on May 24, 2021
Last Updated on May 24, 2021
If you plan to visit Western NC, please check beforehand to see if the area is safe following the recent flooding. Officials have closed some sections of Pisgah National Forest (including Forest Heritage Scenic Byway and Blue Ridge Parkway stops) to keep visitors out of danger. Please respect signage and local guidance.
Looking Glass Falls near Brevard is arguably one of the most beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina. The 60-foot falls sit inside Pisgah National Forest, just off the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway which is one of our favorite scenic roads.
This location means that no hike is required to reach the falls! Beyond the accessible views from the road, there are multiple opportunities for closer looks. You don’t even have to break any rules to enjoy them.
Inside this guide, we’ll share our favorite things to do at Looking Glass Falls, some photo tips, and places to go nearby to make it a full day of fun!
If you’re looking for something specific, here’s how we have organized things:
- About the Falls
- Where is Looking Glass Falls?
- When to Visit
- Things to Do
- Places Nearby
About the Falls
The name “Looking Glass Falls” comes from Looking Glass Rock, viewable from the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 418).
Water freezes on the namesake rock’s sides during winter. When the sun shines on it, a mirror or looking glass effect occurs, thus granting the rock and falls its name. Looking Glass Creek runs past the rock and through the falls themselves.
There is also a popular yet somewhat difficult hike near the falls. If you’re driving from Brevard, you can reach the trail by turning left on US 276 before continuing to Looking Glass Falls.
Across the parkway from the Looking Glass Rock stop is the very popular Skinny Dip Falls trail.
Where is Looking Glass Falls?
This roadside waterfall is about 15 minutes from downtown Brevard and right off US 276 after entering Pisgah National Forest. It’s also about 10 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, near the Cradle of Forestry Overlook (MP 411).
It’s easy to see Looking Glass Falls from your car, but you can also head down the steps for an up-close look at this beautiful 60-footer. We’ll cover how to see these falls in more detail in our “things to do” section.
When To Visit
Early morning is probably the best to visit if you want to beat the crowds. However, it can be tough to get photos on sunny mornings as the sun will hit the falls from above.
We recommend visiting at a less busy time, such as early morning or afternoon when it is cloudy and winter. This winning combination results in breathtaking views, not just at Looking Glass Falls but also all the other waterfalls we have visited.
During winter, it’s possible to find the parking lot empty, even on a sunny afternoon. This peaceful time is limited, as we’ve found, so try to get as many moments and photos in before the next rush of visitors arrive.
Things to Do
There are plenty of things to do at Looking Glass Falls and nearby!
The Looking Glass Falls “Hike”
The “hike” here consists of a switchback set of steps that takes you down to the Falls. We counted 94 steps, but you might as well round it up to 100!
From the observatory at the bottom, you can venture down onto the rocks or even wade in the cool water. The latter is one of the most popular things to do at Looking Glass Falls in the summer months.
Take Photos and Videos that You’ll Never Forget
As we mentioned, photos of Looking Glass Falls are a must.
You can even bring a tripod and try to get amazing long exposures, photos, and videos of the falls themselves, or use your phone to snap some selfies of you and your friends or family.
On windy days or when the falls are full after periods of rainfall, tripod shots at the foot of Looking Glass Falls may be a challenge. No matter how you take your pictures, we guarantee that the scenes you capture will be ones that you’ll never forget.
Swimming and Wading
You can wade in the water when levels are low and safe enough. Swimming underneath the falls is also popular, especially on hot days.
Please practice caution and do not take any risks as there is no lifeguard on duty to help.
Watch and Listen to the Water
For us, one of the best ways to take in the falls is just to sit and listen to the awesome power of Looking Glass Falls. Those cascading falls are truly an impressive thing to watch and listen to, no matter when you visit.
Nearby Looking Glass Falls
There are quite a few falls near Looking Glass Falls. If you’re looking for a visual of that, we’ve created a map of waterfalls in Western NC to help out!
Here are a couple of our favorites, along with more places nearby.
Moore Cove Falls
Two minutes up the road is the Moore Cove Falls trailhead. It’s not nearly as popular as Looking Glass Falls, but the 1.5-mile roundtrip hike leads to a nice 50-foot drop falls.
Five minutes from Looking Glass Falls (and a few minutes from Moore Cove Falls) is the Sliding Rock trailhead. Thanks to the 60-foot natural water slide, this is one of the more popular waterfalls in North Carolina during the summer.
Of course, it gets packed so try to arrive as early as possible. It costs $3 for anyone over three years old to enter. Bathrooms and showers are available, too.
Our map of Waterfalls in Western NC shares visual details of Moore Cove, Sliding Rock, and other amazing falls!
Picnic at the Coontree Picnic Area
Just before Looking Glass Falls is the Coontree Picnic Area, managed by the National Forest Service. With multiple picnic tables, this area is a great place to stop for lunch. There are also spots to dip your feet in Coontree Creek, which runs alongside the Davidson River.
While Looking Glass Falls ranks high on our list of things to do in Brevard, there is just as much to do in this great small town! A variety of seasonal events (during a normal year) contend with a walkable downtown, the Silvermont Park, and the lovely campus of Brevard College.
Our guide shares more that you’ll find in and around Brevard!
Ready to Experience the Amazing Looking Glass Falls?
Visiting Looking Glass Falls is one of our favorite experiences in North Carolina. I don’t know if it’s the magical surroundings or simply the sights and sounds here, but these falls are a truly indescribable experience.
One thing I know is that you will never forget this special place if you ever get the chance to spend some time here. If you’ve been to Looking Glass Falls, we’d love to know how you feel about it!
Let us know in the comments section below and tell us all about it! You’re also welcome to share photos from the falls in our Facebook Group.