Because of weekend traffic and an influx of tourists, nothing was planned until late afternoon. After entering the Blue Ridge Parkway near Magic Valley at about 4:30 PM, we drove east, stopping at each pullover to marvel at the “smoky” mountains. Waterrock Knob, Milepost 451.2, lured us off the Parkway, and, as we discovered, is the second highest of all Parkway peaks and one of the highest in the eastern US at an elevation of almost 6400 feet.
We hiked the rugged 0.6 mile trail to the summit. The steep climb gains 412 feet in elevation with 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 breath, except that recent heavy rains had flooded much of the overlook. The remainder of the trail was rough, with slippery rock steps a bit too tall for height challenged people.
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.
Today, it was foggy, and we could only see abut 50 feet! The wildflowers along the trail were plentiful, and quite beautiful.