Looking glass!! I’ve wanted to do this hike for months because I knew it was right near the falls so it was a real two birds one stone situation!
My alarm woke me up at 6 and I hoped up SO ready to rock and roll. I like to have my bag packed the night before so when I wake up in the morning I can just walk out the door in my pre-coffee stupor. If I’m honest, there have definitely been times where I haven’t prepared adequately and getting up and moving has just felt like torture even though it was MY plan to go in the first place. Does anyone else feel that way with early morning hikes?
There’s a Bruegger’s Bagels right by my house so I stopped in the get a bagel and some coffee before driving out to Brevard.
I live in Charlotte so all of my hikes are about 2 hours away, and I really like starting out when it’s cooler, which means early wake-ups on the weekends.
The drive was pretty straight forward and I got to the starting point around 8:45 am. I had read that there were a ton of switchbacks in the trail (I think it was something like 23) so I was ready for a lot of back and forth.
The first mile and a half of the hike felt really easy and I set a pace of about 15 minutes per mile. The last mile of the hike is where the elevation gain got to be a bit more strenuous.
There’s this weird sort of helipad situation at around that point, so I took a moment to explore around and see what it was. It looks like people had brought chalk with them and there were all these cute messages scrawled across the ground. I couldn’t help but thinking about how cute it would be as a place for a proposal (side note: I don’t want to be engaged or anything right now! I’m only 23, but I’m well past the whole prom-posal thing, so that was the first thought that jumped into my mind!)!
Once I passed this point of the trail I noticed that the last maybe 45 minutes of my hike I felt like I was really hauling ass. In all fairness, I hike like a maniac. I’ve been called out by friends for speed walking up mountains so I’m sure if I had just slowed down I wouldn’t have felt so tired, but I digress, everyone does what works for them and I love to feel like I’m pushing myself!
There’s a flattened-out area about 10 minutes before you hit the summit and at around this point I was hungry, ready for my snack and ready for a break. I didn’t know I was almost there yet, but around one of the switchbacks I had seen two women sitting at what I thought was the summit and the fact that I still wasn’t there was starting to piss me off.
Coming out onto the summit the trail consists of solely rocks and almost bottle necks before you come out to find yourself on a giant sloped sheet of boulder. Because of the rocks I found myself focusing on my steps and staring down at the ground until a couple of seconds after I reached the top.
I’m not sure what it was about this particular summit, but I started crying the second my eyes took it in. I remember when I hiked the Art Lobe trail my friend Jess told me that these mountains used to be part of the Himalayan Mountains when Pangea was a thing, and seeing these mountains stretching out in front of me seemingly forever felt really magical and overwhelming, and like I was home in this really weird way.
Pretty much every time I get to go outside and play in nature I have this thought about how nature asks nothing of us, but always gives me the gift of being completely present with myself. Even when I’m wrapped up in my thoughts I have to focus on the steps I take and the way my body moves in order to keep balanced and moving forwards. Seeing the mountains in front of me made me think some more about that.
So yeah, I cried… wasn’t the first time and if I’m being real, it probably won’t be the last. I won’t get into it with you guys right now, but I cry at pretty much everything, and I’m a huge believer that crying is just another form of emotional expression.
The good news is that I was pretty much the only person up there, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone being concerned about the crying girl atop a mountain on their peaceful Saturday morning.
I took some quick pictures while I pulled out my snack which consisted of a Justin’s Nut Butter Packet (they’re my obsession to put on pretty much anything I come into contact with: fruits, oats, pop tarts, etc.) and a banana. It’s hard for me to toe the line sometimes between enjoying the moment and making sure I capture it, so usually I allocate 5-10 minutes to get whatever shots I can and then the phone goes away again.
I stayed on the summit of looking glass for probably half an hour before I was ready to head down and over to see the waterfall. I timed things well because there must have been about 20 people on the summit when I was leaving, and I passed several more groups in the hour it took me to get down.
There’s nothing wrong with other hikers, I just really value getting to take in the view with no distractions and minimal noises. It feels the same as when I used to be awake with my best friend in high school at 3 am at a sleepover. We would go outside in the middle of the night and even though we knew there were people surrounding us the world felt like it belonged only to us.
I was planning to walk to the falls from the trail head, but after asking some locals I ran into they told me the walk was actually quite far and would probably take me about an hour! That seemed like a long time to be walking along the side of the road so I hopped in my car and drove over.
Looking Glass Falls is for sure a tourist attraction. There was a family reunion (think 30 people in matching red tee shirts stating so), several couples, and about 40 other people all standing around looking at the falls.
My original plan was to cool off after my hike by taking a dip, but after putting my feet in to gauge the temperature I decided it was a no from me. The water was FREEZING!! The view really was beautiful though, and if it had been a warmer day I think I would have enjoyed a dip, it wasn’t clocking in at more than 85 degrees though and by the time I got to the falls it was pretty overcast.
Overall this was a really wonderful hike. There were a ton of switchbacks during the first half, but I wouldn’t say that the hike was anything more than moderate! And the view at the top was so insanely special that I’ll 100% be back to hike it again before the year is up!