Our first waterfall adventure took place in October, so we decided to group a few things together in the Pisgah National Forest. October is peak tourist season and we got out the door before the sun was up, arriving at Looking Glass Falls just past sunrise. It was a great decision as we parked right at the entrance and only had 4 photographers at the falls with us. Riley was able to stand and walk at her own pace. We carried her down the stairs and let her play at the landing. Older kids can continue down into the rocks for closer pictures, but with the temperature we were happy with our pictures. Within 20 minutes of arriving, the lines started forming for pictures and by the time we made it back to the road, 20-30 cars had arrived. I highly recommend arriving very early if you want clear pictures.
The waterfall has the easiest access you could imagine. Parking is parallel to the road with signs announcing your drive up. An uphill walk to the entrance, then a short staircase down. Leave your strollers in the car on this trip. From the look of the trail, it seems many groups walk downstream climbing around the rocks to find swimming spots, but we did not further explore on this trip.
Next we continued up 276 towards Sliding Rock. Before leaving the house, i noticed a spot on the map called Moore Cove Falls Trail and we decided to take a chance on it. The chance turned out very well and the trail turned into a great find. Park on the side of the road near the sign board and trail head, you will most likely drive past it on accident the first time. Your cell phone GPS will lag behind a bit as you drive, so if you do pass it, continue for another mile to sliding rock and turn around.
The first 100 yards of the trail are the hardest for kids as i was carrying my daughter in my arms for this trip. After you make it up the first hill and steps, the trail levels out and you can let the kids walk with a few hand holding spots.
It took us close to 30 minutes of toddler walking and carrying her to reach the waterfall. We got worried that we turned the wrong way, but in retrospect we misjudged time after seeing the google review saying 15 minutes. The walk is a wonderful way to enjoy the quiet and let your kids play along the trail. The small bridges cross creeks with crayfish and plenty of shiny rocks. On the way up we only met 3 groups, but on the way down we passed a few families enjoying the trail. I highly recommend the trail as a way to enjoy a less crowded walk while still being easily accessible.
On the way down the hill, my wife snuck in fall foliage shots for the family. The entire drive in October is filled with magnificent images. Parking spots are on the side of the road and you can stop as many times as you want. Most parking spots are a short distance from the river for lunch picnics.
If we visit in the summer, we would continue on to Sliding Rock. For the fall we decided to get lunch in Hendersonville and continue on to the Apple Orchards! Read about Stepp’s Apple Orchard.