Attraction of the Week: Jump Off Rock
Many beautiful overlooks of the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains can be found throughout the entire Western North region, most notably via the Blue Ridge Parkway. While this drive is incredible, it can get super busy. Avoid the tourist traffic jams and opt instead for a little gem known as the Jump Off Rock overlook. This beautiful sight is located just a short drive away from Hendersonville, a small community located just 20 minutes south of Asheville. In addition to a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge mountains, you will also have the option of hiking 3 short easy-moderate trails.
History of the rock
There was no access to the park until the 1920’s when the Laurel Park Estates built the Laurel Park Highway. In 1925, a couple from Pinellas County Florida purchased the land from the original owners (the Davis family settled the area in the mid 1800’s) and donated it to the town. Fortunately, today, we all get to enjoy the marvelous mountain vistas. There is a helpful little plaque which will help you identify nearby mountain peaks and sights of interest. On a clear day, you can see beautiful mountains in 3 states.
Like many historical sights, the area is rich in tales of the supernatural. Legend goes that 300 years ago, a Cherokee Indian woman received news that her Indian Chief had been killed. She is said to have jumped off the rock, hence the name. On moonlit nights, her ghost is said to make an appearance. Haunted by ghosts or not, the scenery itself is hauntingly beautiful, particularly on days when the misty haze gives off an eerie vibe.
The overlook is located at 3100 feet. You will drive up a twisty paved road to access the scenic vista. Fortunately, no hiking is required to enjoy the view, making this a great choice for everyone. From this overlook, you can marvel at the rolling terrain of South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. For anyone seeking to explore amazing views of the Blue Ridge mountains via little effort, there is no better place in Western North Carolina. The uninterrupted views of the mountains coupled with a complete lack of tourist crowds (especially early in the morning) make this one of the true gems of the Blue Ridge region. Overall, a great place for photography, relaxation, reflection, and simply getting back to nature.
The best part of all is that admission to the park is completely free. Views change throughout the year, so do be sure to come back and enjoy the fall foliage and lovely snow dusted mountains following a winter storm. Sunset is a particularly romantic time to plan your visit and the scenery is surreal, so do consider this as a great free date option.
If you wish to get in a bit of exercise, there are 3 easy/moderate trails to enjoy. No mountain views, although the forested surroundings make for a peaceful experience in the woods.
Blue trail – Pretty easy 10 min nature walk consisting of a small stair climb.
Yellow and red trail – These connecting trails take you on a 20-30 min moderately steep walk through the forest.
Overall, the yellow/red trail is a nice enjoyable trek through the trees and a decent workout.
Location & Hours
The overlook is open all year from sunrise to sunset. Be prepared to drive up a curvy paved road. The overlook is located in Laurel Park (4433 Laurel Park Hwy, Laurel Park, NC 28739) about 5 miles from Hendersonville. There are plenty of places to dine, shop, as well as numerous attractions to check out in downtown Hendersonville to make for a half day out. Take a look below.
Things to do in nearby Hendersonville
Appalachian Pinball Museum – Play unlimited retro pinball and arcade machines.
Grandad’s Apples – Pick your own apples from mid August through the fall. Check out their delicious bakery featuring apple cider donuts, apple pie, and caramel apple oatmeal cookies.
Bearwallow Mountain – Popular hike (appx 1 mile each way) featuring spectacular mountain vistas.
Mast General Store – Old fashioned shop specializing in outdoor gear and apparel, old time gifts, specialty food, and souvenirs. Check out the nostalgic candy bar!
Main St. – Home to local restaurants and boutique shops. Stop by Mountain Deli for a fresh sandwich and pasta salad after your day of exploration.
Be sure to check out my full guide to exploring Western North Carolina