Abenefit of hiking in wintertime is taking in eye-popping views under crystal clear skies. For a short route with a great payoff, walk the Perry Cove Trail in Pisgah National Forest.
The jackpot for hikers is a scenic trifecta of Pisgah’s most famous granite domes.
From the Pisgah Forest Stables, walk a tenth of a mile to Forest Service Road 5054. It’s a short walk to reach Perry Cove Trail on the right. The path meanders to Saddle Gap through an open section of cove forest. In 1.2 miles, turn right on Bennett Gap Trail and walk along a ridgeline buffered by a stand of rhododendron and mountain laurel. Ascend and wind through several rock steps, and in less than a half mile, look left for a world-class view. To the west and nestled among wooded ridges is humble John Rock, and several ridges beyond is the multitiered Cedar Rock. But the scenic plunder is the north side of Looking Glass, an aged glob of hardened lava.
To complete the trek, retrace your steps. Or, continue on Bennett Gap Trail for a slightly longer loop. Turn right at Forest Service Road 477, and reach the riding stables in a half mile.
Navigate: From the intersection of U.S. 276 and 64 near Brevard, drive 2 miles and turn right on FSR 477. Reach the stables in 2 miles. The trailhead is beyond the stables on the left.