Looking Glass Falls Highly recommended waterfall for everyone!

Looking Glass Falls

Nikon D700, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 17mm, f/18, 0.3 second, ISO 200, polarizing filter, very cold feet.

Beauty Rating:
Roadside view
Looking Glass Creek
River Basin:
French Broad
2,360 feet
Type and Height:
Free fall of about 60 feet
Pisgah National Forest, Pisgah Ranger District
Shining Rock
Photo Rating:
Waterfall GPS:
Trailhead GPS:
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Driving Directions

From the junction of US 64, US 276, and NC 280 in Brevard, drive north on US 276 for 5.65 miles to the long, narrow parking area on the right. From the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is 9.35 miles to the falls. You can view the waterfall from an overlook on the upper end of the parking area or descend the steps to the base.


Easy access, size, and beauty combine to make Looking Glass Falls among the most popular waterfalls in North Carolina, no matter the season. I especially like to visit in winter, when icicles hang from the top and the plunge pool sometimes freezes over, leaving only a small area at the base unfrozen.

In 2004, the Forest Service upgraded access by extending the parking lot, building a handicapped-accessible viewing deck, and replacing the old steppingstones leading to the base with an elaborate new step system. A few years prior, it had installed a fence system along the road above the falls to keep people from easily walking out to the top, where a number of people had fallen. The past 10 years has seen such an explosion in visitation that, despite the larger parking area, you’ll be lucky to find an empty spot on summer weekends or any day of the week in October. And you can expect elbow room only at the overlooks and on the steps.

The waterfall and creek are named for Looking Glass Rock, a towering monolith rising 1,500 feet above the falls. The rock is clearly visible from along US 276 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Boasting a nearly vertical face of 500 feet, it is a popular climbing spot. When wet—and particularly when frozen—its face reflects sunlight and resembles a giant mirror.

Nikon D800, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 17mm, f/11, 2.5 seconds, ISO 200, polarizing filter.

Nikon D800, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 17mm, f/5.6, 1/20 second, ISO 800, polarizing filter.

Looking Glass Falls

Nikon D800, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 17mm, f/8, 0.8 second, ISO 100, polarizing filter.

Old film shot. Best guess on gear: Nikon F5, Nikon 17-35mm lens, Fujichrome Velvia film, polarizing filter.

Looking Glass Falls

Old film shot. Best guess on gear: Nikon F5, Nikon 17-35mm lens, Fujichrome Velvia film, polarizing filter.