Pisgah National Forest & Cradle of Forestry

Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest covers over 500,000 acres of mountainous territory in the southern Appalachian Mountains where visitors can see some of the highest mountains in the eastern United States. Pisgah National Forest is named after Mt. Pisgah (elevation 5,721 feet) located at milepost 407 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Recreational opportunities include biking, rock-climbing, backpacking, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, swimming, nature viewing and outdoor learning. With over a thousand miles of trails, it is a hiker’s dream. The Forest is so large that has been divided into 4 Ranger Districts. The Pisgah District is closest to Brevard.

Pisgah National Forest Website

Mountain OverlookPisgah National Forest – Pisgah Ranger District

The Pisgah Ranger District is located roughly between the towns of Brevard, Waynesville and Asheville on both sides of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This 150,000 acre district ranges in elevation from 2,000 feet to 6,410 feet. The Pisgah Visitor Center located is located on Hwy 276 near Brevard at the Pisgah Ranger Station. Here visitors can collect information on hiking and biking trails, fishing locations, etc. There is also a gift shop with trail maps, identification books and nature related gifts.

Cradle of Forestry – Highway 276

The 6,500 acre Cradle of Forestry Historic Site is the home of the first school of Forestry in the United States. It was opened and operated in the late 19th and early 20th century under the direction of George Vanderbilt II, builder of Biltmore Estate in Asheville.

The Cradle’s Forest Discovery Center commemorates forestry conservation with a short movie, interactive exhibits and a fire fighting helicopter simulator. There are three outdoor paved trails leading to historical buildings, a restored 1915 logging locomotive and old saw mill. Cradle of Forestry events include the International Migratory Bird Day Celebration in April with guided bird walks, a Twilight Firefly Tour in June and the Songcatchers Music Series every Sunday in July, plus many others.

Cradle of Forestry Website

Pink Beds – Highway 276

Adjacent to the Cradle of Forestry is the Pink Beds area, named for the profusion of pink wildflowers, mountain laurel and rhododendron that bloom in the spring. This area is especially appealing to naturalists. There is easy loop trail near the parking area.

Sliding Rock – Hwy 276

Sliding Rock features a 50′ sloping boulder that forms a natural water slide. Changing rooms are available and swimmers are watched over by lifeguards from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Looking Glass Falls - Pisgah National ForestLooking Glass Falls – Hwy 276

Nearby is 60′ Looking Glass Falls, one of the most popular waterfalls in Pisgah Forest. It is roadside and easily accessible by steps leading to the base of the waterfall.

Looking Glass Rock

Rising almost 4000 feet, Looking Glass Rock is located about 10 miles north of Brevard on on FR 475 off US Hwy 276 and offers one of the best rock climbing venues in the state. Looking Glass is named from its appearance when rainwater freezes on its granite surface and glistens in the sun like a mirror. There is a 6.2 mile (round-trip) strenous trail that offers a wonderful scenic overlook. Looking Glass Rock also attracts birders as it is a prime nesting area of the peregrine falcon.