An ideal spot for watching sunrises and sunsets across the rugged mountains, Waterrock Knob Visitor Center sits at almost 6,000 feet elevation, and contains restrooms, exhibits, and books for sale. Just outside lies a spring that flows over the Waterrock where hunters and farmers gathered to rest. Nearby is the trail to the summit of Waterrock Knob, where a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding area awaits.
Waterrock Knob is the highest peak in the Plott Balsamsat 6,292 feet and is the 16th highest mountain in the Eastern United States and the 15th highest of the 40 mountains in North Carolina over 6000 feet.
Located at 5,712 feet in elevation, Waterrock Knob has the Parkway’s highest visitor center. Known for its beautiful long-range views of several major mountain chains in the Appalachians, Waterrock Knob is uniquely suited for viewing sunrises and sunsets. The small visitor center introduces visitors to the area’s rugged terrain and tremendous scenic resources, including the Great Smoky Mountains that are visible from here. Stories of the black bear and high elevation forests are told as well. Trails, exhibits, and some of the best and most expansive views make this a popular spot. The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians makes this section of North Carolina their home. The center is open seasonally.
What to Do
- Explore the visitor center and learn more about the site and the region
- Watch a majestic sunrise or sunset as light dances across the mountains
- Enjoy a hike to the top of the summit and witness breathtaking views of the Smokies and Maggie Valley
Waterrock Knob Hiking Trail
A 1.2-mile roundtrip hike will take you to the top of the summit. The steep climb gains 412 feet in elevation. There are more great views along the way. The first 1/4 mile of the trail is paved, ending at a nice overlook with a small rock wall that you can sit on to catch your breathe. At the top, there are several vantage points for distant views (although it’s not a 360-degree panoramic view). On a clear day, you have 50-mile views, including the highest peaks in the Smokies. In the valley below is Maggie Valley.