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John Rock and Cedar Rock Falls – Pisgah National Forest, NC

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
5.9 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
3 hours and 30 minutes with 45 minutes of breaks
1,136 ft
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Park at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. 35.28412, -82.79084

By Trail Contributor: Zach Robbins (Contact Zach)

The loop hike to John Rock and Cedar Rock Falls is one of the quintessential day hikes in the Pisgah Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest. In less than 6 miles you get a prime sample of what the region has to offer – plutons with huge cliffs and big views, and scenic waterfalls that are easy to reach. Many of the hikes originating from FR 475 are popular and this hike is no exception.

Starting at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education you’ll take the Cat Gap Loop Trail east as it meanders beside the Davidson River. Before you even begin, make sure to look up, the cliffs of John Rock loom overhead. After 2.3 miles of moderately easy hiking you’ll reach the top of those cliffs which provide extraordinary views of Looking Glass Rock and the Great Balsam Mountains surrounding the Davidson River watershed. Many hikers turn around, but that would be a mistake. Continue on the loop hike following the gentle course of Cedar Rock Creek through pine groves with exceptional campsites. Near the end of the hike are two waterfalls beside the trail. Cedar Rock Falls, the better of the two, is only 18 feet tall but provides a beautiful setting amidst mossy cliffs and overhangs. You can do this hike in a few hours, or make it a weekend backpacking trip by adding other trails that originate from the Cat Gap Loop Trail. 

Mid February
John Rock and Cedar Rock Falls Hike Comments
Archived Comments

By: Elizabeth D. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 7, 2019
One of the most beautiful hikes I've ever been on. I found the instructions hard to follow and I'm not sure if they are correct. There are not that many blazes on this trail in my opinion especially at critical points where there are two unmarked paths or an indistinct path. There were also two copperheads together (possibly mating?) on the trail at one point so keep an eye out. For it being spring there were next to no blooming flowers or trees on the trail, and at least half or more wasn't much to look at. All this is well worth the good views you do get, ten times over. Additionally, I went on a Sunday that called for light rain (though none fell) and was the only one on the path for the most part.

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