Trail length: ~6.5 miles (about 4 hours total)
Altitude change: +1,700ft
Directions: From Asheville (35 miles/45 minutes) - Take I-240 West and continue on I-26 East. Take Exit 40 (Asheville Airport) and turn right on Highway 280 West toward Brevard. Drive 16 miles and turn right after the Walmart shopping center onto US Highway 276 North. This road will enter the Pisgah National Forest. Drive a little over 5 miles and turn left at the fork in the road (you'll see a sign for the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education and the State Fish Hatchery). In less than a mile you'll see the parking area on the right.
After parking your car, you'll see the trailhead that's marked with a sign. The beginning of the Looking Glass Rock trail is wide and well maintained. It'll start with large switchbacks and the increase in altitude is gradual. After a little under a mile, these large switchbacks get shorter...and steeper. After what seems like an endless amount of these, the trail will even out and open up. Once you pass this part, the trail gets rough with many exposed roots and large steps - so be careful and watch your footing.
You'll pass a large flat rock (used as a helipad) - but in order to get to the summit you must keep going. Continue on the eroded trail and you'll reach the summit when the trail finally flattens out again (you'll notice a campsite). The summit is unimpressive and most likely not why you hiked the trail. Continue past the summit and the trail will start to descend. Don't worry, you're not going the wrong way! After a very short hike, you'll soon see what all the fuss is about.
The trail opens up to a smooth rockface with the most incredible view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Be very very careful with your footing. We went when there were wet marks on the rock, which made things rather slippery - and a fall would likely be fatal. Try to stay towards the top (left) of the rock, it's flatter in this area!
You'll descend the same way you came up - again, be careful as part of the trail is eroded, exposing large tree roots and rocks.