Waterrock Knob holds a special place in my heart. It was my first “real” over 6,000 foot hike after cancer and chemo! Looks like I could have chosen another hike to begin with; but looking back, I feel like this was the place God had for me. Made for the Mountains! . . . as all of us are. We just have to believe.
This is a place I return to often. In the winter when the Blue Ridge Parkway is open, it’s an easy drive (about 20 minutes) from Waynesvilleâ€”(1.45 hours from Toccoa). In the warmer months, it’s “a place” to “drag up a chair” and sit and watch sunsets and sunrises.
This Saturday, we were in Balsam to help Beth close her summer house. Once that was done, I asked if we could drive up to the Parkway, and she immediately suggested Waterrockâ€”located at mile post 451.2. I didn’t know this, but Waterrock is the last hiking trail along the Parkway before you get to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail to the summit of Yellow Face Mountain (in the Smokies), is literally across the road from the entrance to Waterrock!
At 6,292 feet, Waterrock Knob is the 16th highest mountain in the Eastern United States and the 15th highest of the 40 mountains in North Carolina over 6,000 feet.
The parking lot is at 5,820 feet in elevation and a favorite of locals and tourists. There are beautiful long-range views of several major mountain chains in the Appalachians. So, if you get a chance: go to Waterrock Knob! Then you can decide if you want to hike the major “up” to get to the summit. Or you can scramble and bushwhack up Yellow Face! LOL!
A steep paved trail leads to a nice overlook. Then you hike onâ€”a little over a half of a mile! The elevation gain is almost 500 feet straight up. That’s why Waterrock is ranked as moderate to strenuous.
There are some light rock scrambles . . .
some wonderful leaning benches(!)
And unbelievable views. The mountains are wintering now. We actually saw ice along the Blue Ridge.
Quiet and humbleâ€”that’s how I feel looking out at these mountains. What a gift we have been givenâ€”to be so close.
Pat and I got to the top of Waterrock easily. Browning Knob is just beyond here and we’ll do that next.
“Made for the Mountains!” The views from Waterrock are spectacular!
I believe that people who hike tall mountains have learned how to leave difficulties and troubles behind. They are “overcomers.” I can’t explain it, but whenever I’m up over 6,000 feet, my thinking and energy level changes. It must have to do with serotonin levels in the brain. I looked it up and it does. Hiking like this can actually be a mood lifter for some.
So, there you have it! My explanation as to why I need a summer home near the Blue Ridge! (smile)