Sunset at Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Waterrock Knob – Blue Ridge Parkway

Waterrock Knob is a mountain peak located off The Blue Ridge Parkway.  Waterrock Knob is the 16th highest mountain peak in the Eastern United States and is 6,292 feet high.  Waterrock Knob is a popular destination on the parkway due to it's almost 360 degree view from the parking lot, and the short and moderate hike to the peak.

Waterrock Knob Details

Location:

Milepost 451.2 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, near Maggie Valley NC

Handicap Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Features:

Outstanding nearly 360 degree high elevation views.  Both sunrise and sunset are visible.   Hiking trail to the top at 6,293 feet in elevation.  Visitor's Center, picnic tables, and Bathroom facilities are available.

Directions:


From Asheville NC, Waterrock Knob is about a 2 hour drive on the Parkway (56 miles).  While this the most scenic route, it is not the quickest.  For more direct access, travel to exit 27 on I-40 West, and catch the Parkway entrance at Milepost 443.1 off US 74/23.


From Maggie Valley NC, head west on Highway 19 (Soco Rd) towards Cherokee.  Catch the Parkway at Soco Gap (Milepost 456.2), and head towards Asheville.   The road up to Waterrock Knob will be on your left in 5 miles.

Waterrock Knob

Waterrock is one of the most popular stops along the southern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, and for good reason.  Waterrock Knob offers:

  • Incredible long distance views into Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park - These views require NO hiking, and are available from the parking area.
  • Visitor Center
  • Restroom facilities
  • Picnic tables
  • Some of the best sunrise and sunset views you can get on the Parkway

Waterrock Knob gets its name from a cool stream that emerged from a rock, where hunters, traders farmers and Cherokee Indians used to stop to get a cool drink of water along a Cherokee trading trail that went through the area.

We will warn you, Waterrock Knob can be very busy, especially in the evenings as people come to watch the sunset.   Many will stop in Maggie Valley NC, grab food and bring it up to Waterrock to have a picnic dinner, and watch the amazing sunsets.   In peak season during the summer, the parking lot will often fill up and hour or so prior to sunset.  So plan accordingly.

The parking area has a large grassy area in the middle, that is popular for families and children and is a great place to throw a ball, toss the frisbee or just to let your kids burn off some energy.

Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash - Please always clean up after your pets!

How to get to Waterrock Knob

Waterrock Knob is located at Milepost 451.2 on the Parkway.  See the header section of this article for directions from Asheville NC and Maggie Valley NC.   The short entry road will bring you to the pain parking area, where the road loops around with amble parking, and just insane views on a clear day.   The views are almost 360 around.

As you enter the parking area, sunrise views and views into Eastern NC will be on your right.  On the left, will be the sunset view, and views into Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Restroom facilities will be in the grassy center area.

Hiking to the top of Waterrock Knob

If you are looking from the access road into the parking area, Waterrock Knob is the large "knob" in front of you.  There is a trail to the top, that is a bit misleading for many visitors.  You'll find the trail head in the right corner of the parking area.  It begins as a paved ramp heading up the knob. 

The hike up is a short 1.2 miles roundtrip, enticing many to head up.  Where it is a little misleading is that it doesn't tell you how steep it is.   It's a pretty steep climb the whole way up to the top.  The trail is pretty rocky, and requires a bit of high stepping in a few spots.   Now with that said, the trail offers some beautiful views on the way up and from the top.

We STRONGLY recommend that if you decide to do this trail, to bring proper hiking shoes/boots, and water at the very least.  Again, it's only 1.2 miles, but it's a legit hike, not a short walk.

Be warned as well, weather at Waterrock is very unpredictable, and bad weather and fog can move in quickly.   You may get there and it be clear, and by the time you get the top, it's fogged in.  The opposite holds true as well.  All part of the mountain adventure.

Here's our video on the hike to the top!

Sunrise and Sunset at Waterrock Knob

While the views are fantastic all day on a clear day, the big attraction for Waterrock are the amazing sunrises and sunsets.   The open viewing areas from the parking lot, face east and west providing amazing long distance views of both the sunrise and sunset.  

People literally travel from all over the world to see them.   The best part?  They are all different, beautiful and unique.

Strive to visit when there is no rain in the forecast, or after a rainstorm has gone through.  You'll want some clouds in the sky for the most beautiful colors, and photos.  Be sure to arrive an hour or so before to get the best options for views. 

For sunrises, some of the best color is before the sun actually rises, and for sunsets, the opposite holds true.

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2 comments
Charles Keys says July 30, 2013

Another terrific post and beautiful scenery! Loving the mountains! 🙂

You guys must have some great camera’s!

Reply
    Larry says July 30, 2013

    Thank you Charles. We both have Canon EOS digital SLRs. We use the same camera type so we can share lenses and accessories. Been using Canon SLR cameras for my photography since the mid 80s.

    Which reminds me, I have a bunch of “retro” pics I took when my wife and I were visiting the mountains before we were married. I’ll have to scan them in and post them.

    Reply
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