Life Outside Four Walls: Take a hike to John Rock in Pisgah Forest

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hiking to the top of John Rock in the Pisgah National Forest is one hike that is worth planning. The rock face is located near the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education, 1401 Fish Hatchery Road, Pisgah Forest.

The hike is said to be about a five-mile loop trail, but it feels like more than that. The trail gains about 1,000 feet in elevation to the top of the mountain, and the return part of the loop is shorter.

The trailhead starts at the parking lot at the Center for Wildlife Education. Look for Forest Service Rd. 475C. After crossing a bridge you will turn right onto Cat Gap Loop Trail with orange blazing. Roughly a mile up the trail you will find Cedar Rock Falls on your left. This is a very nice waterfall and the hike to this point is pretty easy. There is a nice “cave” type recess in the rock wall next to the falls that is a nice spot to check out.

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As you return to the trail, you will find another small waterfall just above Cedar Rock Falls that’s worth a look. The trail will cross the creek several times and then makes its way through a flat area that’s a little unique that far up a mountain. You will need to make a couple of left turns on some trails, one wasn’t really a turn to me, just keep on the trails to the left. The first is Cat Gap Connector, and the next is Cat Gap Bypass with yellow blazing.

At the crest of a ridge you will turn left again onto John Rock trail at a four-way intersection. You will go up several steps and over the crest of the mountain and start down the other side to John Rock. The trail leads out onto the huge rock face. If you are scared of heights this may be a little intimidating, so you can stay near the wood line, or you can venture onto the rock face for an incredible view toward Looking Glass Rock across the valley, or toward the Blue Ridge Parkway across the valley and along the ridges to your left.

The fish hatchery where you parked will be directly below you, the cars in the parking lot will put into perspective just how high up you are. The top of John Rock is very similar to the top of Looking Glass Rock, but the hike in is far better.

If you want to finish the loop, follow the wood line along the rock to your right, the trail exits by the rock face and head down the mountain. The trail eventually parallels the Davidson River as you make your way to the parking lot.

Hike ‘em while you can, and be grateful you are able.