Hike To An Abandoned Plane Crash

The paved trail that marks the beginning of the hike to Waterrock Knob looks harmless enough… but you’ll be glad for an opportunity to stop and take in the views when you realize it’s a steep climb (412 feet) to the summit.

Located at Milepost 451.2, Waterrock Knob is the last trail before the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s about 56 miles from Asheville’s exit on the Parkway at NC Highway 191. 

On a clear day, you can see 50 miles from the top. The location, between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Great Balsam Mountains, makes it the perfect place for viewing sunrises and sunsets. 

But it’s what’s on the trail to the left, just below the summit that will really take your breath away.

It’s a moderate hike over gnarly tree roots, down steep dips, and over rough terrain that eventually takes you to the wreckage of an abandoned plane crash. The trail is marked with yellow paint but not very well so make sure to let someone know where you are going just in case you get lost. 

The first trail takes you about half a mile to Browning Knob. From there, another small trail to the left will take you down to the crash site. 

The wreckage of the Cessna 414A (except the engine) is still there, spread over the mountainside. A pilot and a passenger died in the 1983 crash blamed on a variety of factors including alcohol. The crash is about 200 yards down a hill nestled in the trees. 

It’s an eerie sight, but one that makes this hike worth putting on your ‘must-do’ list.

You can see stories like this and follow all the adventures of Milemarker 50 on Instagram at @milemarker_50 – Allison Andrews