As winter rolls in, bringing snowy scenes to the Appalachian Mountains, we wanted to revisit some of our favorite waterfalls to see the affects. Since we didn’t know just how bad the roads and hiking paths would be, we thought Looking Glass Falls would be a good option, since they can be seen from the main road. Also in the Pisgah National Forest, Moore Cove Falls is just a short drive further.
Beautiful anytime of year, let’s look at how these gorgeous waterfalls transform from summer to winter.
Just north of the small town of Brevard, North Carolina, Looking Glass Falls is a favorite of visitors of the Pisgah National Forest. These fairy like falls are easy to see from the road, but also have a staircase to the bottom.
About halfway down the stairs is a viewing platform perfect for photos. The bottom of the stairs provide access to the rock pooled base of the falls, and the river.
In summer, crowds gather in the river to enjoy the cold water. It’s a fun family atmosphere, with locals and tourists enjoying the scenery.
I am going to be a little bit of a buzzkill. Do be careful about swimming near the waterfall. Waterfalls can and do cause underwater currents. These currents can drag and hold you under the water, or push you into the submerged rocks. There are plenty of safe places on the river.
Winter At Looking Glass Falls
This winter, as we pulled up to the street parking next to Looking Glass Falls, amazing crystal needles hung near the side of the road.
Covered in a thin sheet of ice, we carefully made our way down the stairs to the mid-level platform for the waterfall.
As I snapped my photos, three people took bad falls as they came down the stairs. Luckily, they were all okay, or maybe they were just too embarrassed to say otherwise.
We tried to get to the bottom platform near the river, but the ice was too slippery. This reminded us we needed to replace our ice cleats we left behind in the UK. I’ve since ordered us a pair of ice cleats off Amazon. I can’t wait for our next ice day to give them a try.
Moore Cove Falls
Just down the road of Looking Glass Falls is the short, easy .7-mile hiking trail to Moore Cove Falls.
This 50-foot waterfall does not nearly have as much water compared to Looking Glass Falls. However, the way it drizzles over the ledge in the sunlight gives a magical feel.
Not to mention, you can also walk behind this beauty. Just be very careful of your step. You’ll note the caution of death signs as you make your way along the ledge on the right of the falls. Take them seriously.
Winter At Moore Cove Falls
We were lucky the snow on the trail melted before our visit. Though there were a few pockets of ice, it was still a very easy hike.
As we approached the Moore Cove Falls, the gorgeous iced over river sparkled in the sun.
Overhead, icicles hung from the cliff. If you do go in winter, be wary of these. A hiking guide took his tour group through a seemingly easy route to get behind the falls. About 30 seconds after the group passed through, several large icicles came down with a thunderous clap, just where they were previously standing. Let’s just say it wouldn’t have been pretty if they were still there.
Just beyond Moore Cove Falls is one of North Carolina’s most loved natural attractions, Sliding Rock Falls.
Like a very tiny waterpark, hoards of water lovers flock to this area of the Pisgah National Forest in summer to slide down the aptly named rock.
Obviously it was too cold for a swim during our winter visit. However, as the park normally charges entry to Sliding Rock in summer, we popped in for a few photos while it was free.
It was strange to see this place so empty, but also rather peaceful.
Where Are Looking Glass, Moore Cove and Sliding Rock Falls?
All three waterfalls are located along US-276 (Pisgah Highway) just north of Brevard, North Carolina. Starting from the Pisgah Ranger Station / Visitor Center you’ll find the waterfalls in the order I’ve listed them.
Once you’ve visited the falls, if you have time, we recommend continuing the scenic drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park.
Where To Eat?
Unless you bring your own picnic, you’ll likely leave the park to grab something to eat. Here are a few places we enjoy when we are in the area.
- Mayberry’s Soups & Sandwiches (30 W Main St, Brevard, NC 28712) – Our favorite spot. We’ve always enjoyed everything we have tried.
- Rocky’s Grill & Soda Shop (50 S Broad St, Brevard, NC 28712) – We love the iconic Americana feel to Rocky’s. Luckily, their burgers and shakes are also delicious.
- Hawg Wild Barbeque (91 Pisgah Hwy, Pisgah Forest, NC 28768) – We like their pulled pork and hushpuppies. Plus, they are just at the entrance to the park.
Where To Stay?
Though the closest town is Brevard, this small town does not have a lot of choice in accommodation. We recommend looking near Hendersonville instead. It’s also very close to the park, but has a few more options.
The Lodge at Flat Rock – Romantic, comfortable, and clean it’s an easy winner. Plus, most of their rooms have kitchens.
Cascades Mountain Resort – Also in Hendersonville, but usually a little more budget friendly.
- The Greystone Inn on Lake Toxaway – Okay, so this one is a little further out, but I’d feel I’d be doing you an injustice not mentioning it. 20 miles outside Brevard, this high-end hotel on a lake is pure luxury.