Situated at milepost 451.2, Waterrock Knob is the highest elevated visitor center on the parkway at 5,820 ft. This spot is just over half an hour from Western Carolina University, making it a popular day hiking location. The main trail at Waterrock Knob is just over a mile with some pretty serious, albeit mostly paved, incline. Your reward is an impressive overhead view of the parkway and beyond.
What’s the Choose Your Own Adventure part of Waterrock Knob? Well, just before the peak of the main trail you will find a (sometimes marked, sometimes not) trailhead to the left. This is where the true adventure begins! I’m not quite sure how long the whole hike is, but if you take this trail all the way to the cross, it could easily be an all day hike. There is plenty of pretty trail and plenty of views, the two most notable probably being the plane crash and the cross at the farthest end.
I’ve been to the plane crash probably a half-dozen times now. You can just see it from the trail along with it’s trail of scrap metal and other materials that have become part of the landscape. Keep your dogs away from the main part of the wreckage to prevent hurting their paws on sharp metal.
The cross is pretty much as far as you can go on this trail. The hike to get here is long, but not any harder than the rest of the trail. Leave from the trailhead no later than noon if you want to make it back before dark.
No matter what you choose to do at Waterrock Knob, have fun and take pictures! What are some of your favorite hiking spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Tell me yours in a comment below.