Looking Glass Rock: A Pluton Monolith

Filed under: Autumn, Hiking, Things to Do

The interesting thing about writing this blog is that it make things so interesting! By that I mean it isn’t enough to just throw some pictures up and say,  “This is what we did, isn’t it pretty?”   I feel like I have to make this a little more of a compelling read than that and, truthfully I enjoy researching our walks and outings.  Like I said:  it makes things so interesting.

Me, being a helicopter on the helicopter landing pad!

About a week ago, based on a recommendation from one of our  guests at our Asheville bed and breakfast, James and I climbed Looking Glass Rock.  And this is what I found out:  Looking Glass Rock is a “pluton monolith” almost 4000ft high in the Pisgah Forest.  A pluton monolith is a bubble of molten lava which did not explode out a volcano but instead solidified inside the mountain (hence the name “Pluton” for Pluto, God of the Underground) until eventually (eons!) erosion exposed it.  According to the Rangers at the Pisgah Forest Ranger’s Station, it is called “Looking Glass Rock” because it becomes a wintertime mirror when ice forms on it’s surface.

James just stepping out onto the rock

The hike up ascends 1600 feet in three miles.  It’s an interesting hike, probably better taken in late autumn when the lack of leaves on the trees makes it easier to see the views of the mountains.  James and I figure we hit it just about perfectly.  We could see through the trees but there were still enough to give color to the moutainside.   The climb is steep but not impossible, consisting of 31 switchbacks (yes, we counted them) along the ridge of the mountain.  About halfway up you will start to find yourself walking along long stretches of exposed rock.  There is even a helicopter landing site which has been painted on to one of the larger exposed stones.  I don’t know if they have ever actually landed a helicopter there although I supposed anyone who risks walking out on Looking Glass Rock when it is ice covered might find themselves in need of evacuation!  The helicopter rock is also known as Max Wilson’s Rock because of a name and date carved into it.  Apparently he was a former US Marshall and still has family in the area.  The first date is 3-9-30.  I guess in those days they didn’t worry about defacing public property!

When you arrive at the top, you are on a huge (and I mean huge) expanse of granite which will tempt you to walk around while simultaneously frightening you with the precipice below. 

This is a very popular hike and I can imagine that in high season the rock is fairly crowded but when we climbed it was a Tuesday in early November so we found ourselves sharing the summit with only a couple of other hikers.  One of whom suggested taking our picture together which we agreed to after we got over the novelty of that idea!

And of course, we had stopped at GreenLife before setting out where we bought our usual delightful sandwiches.  I get a kick out of just reading the labels–it is sometimes hard to find a chemical listed.
 James and I agreed that this picnic had to go on our list of ten best picnics spots we have been to and then we debated what other locations should be on the list as we descended the mountain.

So that’s it, another hike under our belts.  By now we have a pretty good collection of hikes and walks of just about every range of difficulty to offer to our guests at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast!

In closing, here is a picture of a beautiful stand of beech trees.  Doesn’t it look like it would make a great jigsaw puzzle picture?


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