Ascent of John Rock Peak on 2017-02-12

Climber: Zachary Robbins

Date:Sunday, February 12, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:John Rock Peak
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:3320 ft / 1011 m

Ascent Trip Report

This really isn't a peakbagging hike, I'm not 100% positive I even touched the true summit, maybe 98% sure. According to my GPS I missed it, but I feel like the trail crossed the highest land. But anyways, this a great loop hike, a classic in the Pisgah Ranger District and a popular one. John Rock is a pluton with massive exposed cliffs facing north directly above the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. Hikers may be drawn to the larger, taller Looking Glass Rock, but John Rock arguably provides better views. At the huge parking lot you can do this hike either direction, I suggest clockwise following the Cat Gap Loop Trail east towards John Rock. There is barely any climbing until you start the John Rock Trail, which climbs moderately towards the summit.

When the trail levels off and begins making a big curve left while heading west, you are near the cliffs. You'll see some manways on the right, but ignore the first few. They lead to the lower elevation of the cliffs and are mostly hazardous. A lot of people end up missing John Rock initially, they continue south towards the mountain summit. I had to turn around 3 groups of people who all missed the side trails. The upper two side trails lead to the safest part of John Rock, which as awesome views of Looking Glass Rock towering over the Davidson River. The larger Great Balsam Mtns form a nice ring around the area, this is a great place to hang out.

Most people turn around here, so you'll have some solitude as you continue south. The descent to the Cat Gap Loop Trail is surprisingly steep. From here I took the Cat Gap Bypass Trail to shorten the hike. If you have a full day consider continuing to Cedar Rock for a longer loop. The bypass trail joins the loop trail in a half-mile, and now you closely follow Cedar Rock Creek through some nice pine forests. As you loop around Cedar Rock Creek after the second bridge/Butter Gap Trail, keep an eye out for the side trail down to Cedar Rock Falls. Although the waterfall is 18 ft tall, it is a really nice setting. There's no reason to do this loop without checking out the falls.

Full hike info and video
Summary Total Data
    Round-Trip Distance:5.9 mi / 9.5 km
Ascent Statistics
    Distance:2.3 mi / 3.7 km
Descent Statistics
    Distance:3.6 mi / 5.8 km
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Zachary Robbins
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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