Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunset Rock, Highlands NC

The gravel road leading up Satulah Mountain is rutted and narrow, the risky business of passing oncoming traffic only manageable in the rare wider section of road. Luckily it is mostly traversed on foot, although the adventurous sort will drive up the ½ mile to a small opening that allows for a turnaround. It is not a challenging hike, nor lengthy – but it is one you will want to take if you’re in Highlands, North Carolina.

Sunset Rock is located in Ravenel Park and is managed by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. Granite domes are unique to the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment, and are known for having a mixture of bare rock, steep cliffs and shallow vegetation. The Highlands Plateau has also been designated by National Audubon Society as one of the Important Bird Areas of the world, and birds of high conservation priority found in the area include the Canada Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Golden-crowned Kinglet and the Red-breasted Nuthatch.

From the main intersection of Main Street with N 4th Street in Highlands, NC, head east on Main until the road turns into Horse Cove Road and follow it just past the intersection with Gibson Street. You’ll see a parking area for Sunset Rock/Ravenel on your right, and the gravel road to the park takes you up to the trailhead.

From the opening at the top of the road, look to your right for the trailhead that leads out to sunset rock – you’ll recognize it by the large info sign. Just a few hundred feet later you’ll emerge at the top of the world… The exposed rock face provides views of downtown Highlands and the surrounding mountains, and is named for what else but the excellent sunsets! There are a few park benches to soak in the views, but no safety railings – keep the kids close!

Whether you’re in town for the Highlands Food & Wine Festival, headed to Whiteside Mountain, or on your way north to one of the multiple waterfalls on the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, Sunset Rock is worth the trip – especially if you park at the base and enjoy the walk up!


  1. I need to keep this post (along with Whiteside Mountain) --so that we can hike there sometime... We visit Cashiers in March most every year --so maybe this year, we'll check it out..


    1. Make sure to look into the 'shadow of the bear' phenomenon - it occurs not only in the fall, but also in late winter from mid February through early March!


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