Trail Recap: Looking Glass Rock

So, I hiked John Rock with Sam and Clara on Saturday, and you can see Looking Glass Rock from the top of that overlook (see crudely drawn arrow in selfie). Well, I scrambled a few people from the Fleet Feet Trail Running group together for a tough Sunday morning go at it. It did NOT disappoint!

View of Looking Glass Rock from the top of John Rock overlook

Aside from a little snag in the schedule when Clara decided to wake up in the middle of the night which led to me sleeping on the couch with her and Chad accidentally shutting off my alarm, we made it to the trailhead around 7:45am on Sunday morning. It was great because there was plenty of parking and we didn’t expect to see much traffic on the trail.

Looking Glass Trailhead is a small, paved pull-off on the road in Pisgah National Forest. This time of the year, I don’t think there’s a lot of fight for parking; however, just like John Rock, I would assume this is a tough one to try and run during peeper-season.

The first mile or so was pretty runnable. I mean, it’s definitely uphill and gets your heart rate going out of the gate, but we kept clipping along pretty well. Nothing too technical, either – it’s a really well maintained trail. Around 1.3 is really where we felt the altitude and the climb slow us down. The trail gets a lot more rooty as you get toward the top, with erosion playing a big role in a few tricky climbs. Right before the summit there’s a slab to the left. It’s nothing special, and yet it kind of is special. It looks like a giant, natural helicopter landing pad on the top of the mountain. Mile three was also very technical and didn’t result in a whole lot of “running.”

We got to the top and it’s really spectacular! A lot like John Rock, there are just stunning views of Pisgah and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The clouds were just about at the elevation of the top of the mountains, but you could see the peaks peek out every once in a while, and the visibility aside from that was really great. It was fun to peek around the trees and make out John Rock from Saturday’s hike… it’s not as obvious as Looking Glass is when you’re standing over there, but I could tell where it was!

We spent a bit of time resting and taking pictures at the top. It was pretty amazing being the only ones up there, something I assume is very uncommon over the months prior. Early birds get the spectacular trail conditions and uninterrupted views. 🙂

Erin and I let Stephen lead on the way down. He’s a much better downhill runner than I am and I didn’t want to be holding him up. Within minutes he was out of sight and bounding down the side of the mountain! Erin and I are a little more cautious on the downhill. We trucked along at a pretty decent pace, and both remarked how much more “runnable” the trail was on the way down than we expected! I don’t think I could have gone much faster because of the rocks and roots, but it did feel like we were on a bit of downhill rollercoaster!

It was also really nice to have another woman to run with. I haven’t done a lot of group runs since we moved here, but Erin was one of the first people I met and we paced pretty well together. Chatting about everything from injuries, to social media, to bus conversions, and more… (Stephen does a bit less talking, but he chimed in enough on the way up for us to appreciate his presence)

My favorite part about Pisgah runs, especially on weekend mornings, is the Velvet Cup coffee and donut truck at the Hub on the way out. I purposely made sure to remember my wallet so I could bring treats home for the family (and most of the donuts DID make it back to the house!).

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