It’s no surprise that a visit to Western North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Pisgah National Forest promises some of the most scenic vistas and landscapes of your life. But if you’re looking for the best sunset spots near Brevard, NC, where should you go? You can’t go wrong with any of the places on this list, which are also all easy drives from Pilot Cove.
1. Black Balsam Knob
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Black Balsam Knob is an exceptional overlook on the Art Loeb Trail. After a short walk through a balsam grove, the trail’s landscape shifts to sunny, rocky terrain. Your climb to the ridgeline will lead you to mountain balds as far as the eye can see in a 360-degree panorama. Return the way you came after enjoying a spectacular sunset, and you’ll have completed your 1.4-mile hike to one of the most scenic spots in Western North Carolina.
2. Tennent Mountain
Extend your Black Balsam Knob adventure longer, perhaps timing your trip to land on beautiful Tennent Mountain right at sunset. Congratulations – your hike has just transformed into a magnificent double-summit, incredibly scenic trek over two mountain balds. You have several hike options here; our two suggestions for sunset would be to take this 3.7-mile out-and-back hike, or this 4.3-mile loop.
3. Sam Knob
Just a stone’s throw from our last two hikes you’ll find Sam Knob, another worthy contender for an incredible sunset in Western North Carolina. The mountain’s high elevation summit comes after a relatively short hike that progresses from meadow to forest to rock. From the top, you can enjoy stunning views of neighboring peaks along the parkway and in Pisgah National Forest. Take in the colors of an end to a beautiful day in North Carolina, and then hike out along the same trail to finish your 2.5-mile hike.
4. Looking Glass Rock
Looking Glass Rock is one of those iconic places that you just have to experience for yourself. If you’ve seen its beautiful domed rock face while driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ve already had a taste of its allure. Being on top of this mountaintop at sunset is even better! Prepare for a dense forest hike to open up to a massive rock outcrop at the summit. Looking Glass Rock’s 6.2-mile out-and-back hike is also a fantastic spot for sunrise.
5. Devil’s Courthouse
Devil’s Courthouse is a short 0.8-mile hike with incredible views, especially at sunset. Follow the paved trail from the parking area to the summit to enjoy sweeping vistas over the surrounding mountains. The area is rich with history and folklore, including the Cherokee legend spoken to early mountain settlers about the devil holding court in a cave within the mountain.
6. Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower
A unique option on this list that might be a little more accessible if you don’t mind a walk but aren’t as into hiking, Frying Pan Tower is easily accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway and provides incredible views of Cold Mountain and the Shining Rock Wilderness. A steady uphill walk along a gravel path through the forest will take you to a fire lookout tower that was decommissioned in the 1990s. The 70-foot tower and 1.5-mile out-and-back trail remain open to the public, and promise a lovely location to take in sunset views.
7. Cedar Rock Mountain
Another wonderful option for your evening is to over to DuPont State Forest for a beautiful sunset on Cedar Rock Mountain. While the summit rises only 200 feet above the surrounding plateau, this spot contains some of the most exposed granite anywhere in our region. Picture hundreds of acres alternating between bare and moss-covered stone. Expect wonderful mountain views and dramatic scenery. This 4.5-mile loop hike includes sections of three trails, so be sure to take directions with you and enjoy a spectacular outing.
8. Big Rock Trail
Another rocky, mossy (and did we mention gorgeous?) hike in DuPont State Forest is the Big Rock Trail. This one connects with Cedar Rock trail, although this option allows for a shorter hike, about 1.6 miles round trip. The rocky, moderately tough hike later winds through dry pine and oak forest, climaxing with some beautiful views of areas within the forest and looking toward Pisgah National Forest as well.
9. Waterrock Knob
The Blue Ridge Parkway reaches some of its highest points in the Waterrock Knob area, including the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center, which is an excellent place to watch the sun sink behind the mountains. A steep, paved 1.2-mile round-trip walk will lead you to some of the most magnificent high elevation views in the area. You might want to bring your camping chairs, a cozy blanket, and a picnic for this one. The visitor center at the base of the path has restrooms open seasonally.
10. Caesars Head State Park
Don’t let the South Carolina address fool you…Caesars Head is only a 30-minute drive from Pilot Cove! The most well-known overlook in the state park offers fabulous views of Table Rock Mountain. This is an easily accessible overlook with wheelchair access. Here you’re at the top of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, a unique geological feature of South Carolina where the elevation drops about 2,000 feet in just half a mile. This means you’ll witness dramatic mountain landscape descending into the upper foothills of South Carolina. This is a beautiful area for enjoying sunset right outside our back door.
Bonus! Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks
Also known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the overlooks along the Blue Ridge Parkway are some of the most jaw-dropping spots to enjoy sunset views. You can simply hop on the parkway and drive until an overlook catches your eye, or pop one of the spots below into your GPS. Park your car and let nature do the rest.