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Forest Heritage Scenic Byway

The Forest Scenic Byway is a beautiful drive that passes through the Pisgah Mountains and rolling countryside from Rosman to Brevard, looping through Haywood and Transylvania Counties. This 79-mile route, which follows NC 215 and US 276, is steeped in history surrounding old logging and railroad lore. Along the way, take a swim, chase waterfalls, take a hike, and find the perfect picnic spot.

Byway Waterfall Hiking Trails
Along the way, you’ll undoubtedly be tempted by the many hiking trails that dot the route. The Looking Glass Rock hike is just off Mile 5 of the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. It starts with an easy stroll through wildflowers and across a bridge, but then the 6.5-mile out-and-back trail gets serious with numerous switchbacks with some challenging inclines. But when you reach the apex, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views clear to the horizon.
Moore Cove Falls is almost hidden if you don’t know what you’re looking for, which is a 2-car parking area, 1 mile past Looking Glass Falls. The waterfall can be reached by an easy 1.4-mile hike starting at a picturesque wooden bridge. Depending on the amount of rainfall, you can either find a small trickle or a rushing flow. You can actually walk behind the falls when they’re at their fullest, but signs warn of the dangers you should carefully consider.

Wildcat Falls is a 1.5-mile out-and-back trail near the intersection of NC 215 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The path to the bottom is steep before you cross a small creek to 2 small falls. Stay on the path to a concrete  bridge for a view of the top part of Wildcat Falls. Another steep trail just past the bridge leads you to a viewing area of Wildcat Falls from below.
The Cradle of Forestry
Get out and stretch your legs at the Cradle of Forestry where you can explore hands-on exhibits in the place that originated “practical forestry,” meaning the intentional study of land economy. Most of the historical sites along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway have been lost to natural disasters or traded in for today’s roads. However, you can still get a glimpse of the area’s history at the Cradle of Forestry’s collection of historic buildings, a steam logging engine, and an old community representative of the hardworking families who once lived here.

While there, you can hike the trails and have a bite at the café. Then pick up souvenir from the gift shop to remember the experience. It’s open from mid-April to November, but if you’re there out of season, you can still take in the view from the Cradle of Forestry Overlook at MilePost 410 on the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway.

Sliding Rock
To cool off in the most fun way possible, stop at Sliding Rock near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Picture a 60-foot natural waterslide that plunges you into an icy-cold, 8-foot-deep pool of water. It’s a very popular spot and there are no places to change, so wear your bathing suit under your clothes. You can also stay dry and watch the good times from the 2 observation platforms.
Pack a lunch to enjoy at any of the several picnic areas along the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway. Some of our favorite spots include Pink Beds, named by the settlers who saw scores of blooming local plants visible from the nearby mountainsides. Today the area has been reforested, and you can explore it on the Pink Beds Loop Trail, a family-friendly, easy, 5-mile walk. You’ll find 2 shelters and more than 20 picnic tables here. Another ideal picnic place is the Coontree Picnic Area. Here you’ll find 10 picnic tables, restrooms, and drinking water. People love this spot for the
river access it offers. It’s a perfect place to swim, tube, or fish. There are no picnic tables at another favorite, Looking Glass Falls Picnic Spot, but people find plenty of places to spread a blanket. If you prefer tables, you’ll find several along the river very close to the falls.