Waterrock Knob

Categories: Play, Hiking & Backpacking, Kid-Friendly, Picnic Areas, Picnic Areas, Places of Interest, Dog Friendly Hiking Trails, Outdoor Fun, Easy Access/Roadside Picnics, Our Favorites, Blue Ridge Parkway


  •  Waterrock Knob is located at Mile Post 451.2 (18 miles from Cherokee access and end of the parkway) 
  •  Excellent Sunrise/Sunsets 
  •  Half of hiking trail is paved 
  •  Views of Cherokee (casino), Maggie Valley (Ghost Town), Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mtn National Park & Plott Balsam Mtn Range 
  •  Picnic area with tremendous views, restrooms and Park Ranger Store with parkway info & souvenirs
  •  Ranked #13 highest peak in the Eastern US 
  •  Moderately Difficult 2.4 mile hike to an elevation of 6292 ft. (optional)
  •  Large parking area with fantastic views from your car

The Local Scoop

From Waterrock Knob parking lot take in the amazing views to the Southeast and beyond. Or go over to the Park Ranger Store and take in views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee just below you. You do not have to hike the trail to the summit to take in the excellent views of the surrounding mountains but if you're capable of hiking a strenuous trail, then we strongly recommend it. If you can't make the hike, take a picnic lunch and make use of the multiple tables that are provided in the "mile high" parking area, again, with amazing views. But if you do feel up to the 1.2 mile hike (uphill the entire way) you will be rewarded with near 360 degree views.  The last visit we made was in early Autumn on a crystal clear day and you could truly see as far as your eyes would allow.  
Explore at the summit for multiple viewing overlooks, but be very careful, especially with children.  Some of the side trail views are extemely steep and are dangerous if not paying attention. For such a short hike, the views are worth the trek up the partially paved path. About half way up the trail you will need to negotiate a few rocky inclines but nothing too serious. Take your time and enjoy the views from well over 6,000 ft!  You'll be hard pressed to find another quite like it. Be sure to stop by any of the fine establishment listings under our "Eat" section to stock up on all of your picnic goodies and be sure to tell them Stay And Play In The Smokies sent you!

The Local Directions

From Dillsboro/Sylva take US Hwy 74/23 (Great Smoky Mountains Expressway) East towards Waynesville/Asheville. From Exit 85 just outside of Sylva travel 9 miles to the Blue Ridge Parkway Access on the Left. Continue through the Parkway gates and up the hill for 0.5 mile to a split in the road. Go Right towards Cherokee for 7.1 miles to Mile Post 451.2 (decimals aren't posted on the actual posts along the parkway, but it is the actual distance you'll have to travel past the post reading "451") and entrance to Waterrock Knob parking area on your Right.

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Difficulty Levels

  • Hike8What's this?
Jackson County
Access Road:  35.456447,-83.14264
Summit:  35.464104,-83.137659
Hike Distance
2.4 miles (roundtrip & optional)
Easy via U.S. Hwy-74 &
Blue Ridge Parkway 
Nearest City
Distance From
Sylva, 19.6 miles