Mills River Valley Overlook


At Milepost 404.5 of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway is our Blue Ridge Parkway Guide for more information.

Burroughs witnessed almost fifty years of American industrial history slip by like waves on the Hudson and attempted to capture it all with his essay, A River View. To do so, he unusually organized his material and placed each topic together.

Natural Beauty

From this overlook at milepost 404.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway is an expansive panorama of Goose Creek Valley. As one of the more easily accessible overlooks on this parkway route, this one should not be missed.

View from Apple Orchard Overlook This overlook features a flat rocky area dotted with pine trees that evoke images of an orchard – giving this view its name. This spot is famous for watching the sunrise and sunset.

Henderson County offers excellent fly fishing lakes that present novice and expert anglers alike with an exciting challenge, as well as many hiking trails and mountain biking opportunities.

Residents of the laurel-thickened hollows that comprise northwest Henderson County have always been an independent and proud people, living off hunting, trapping, and wood chopping – not wanting any meddling from government or business to tap their natural abundance.

During the Revolutionary War, some families from Mills River supported the Tory cause, while others, like the Rickmans, sent seven sons off to fight in support of the Confederacy. Civil War was another turning point that fractured communities and divided families; today, its highest mountain peaks form part of Pisgah National Forest; these include Little Pisgah Mountain, Johnson Knob Candler Knob, and Stony Bald.

Hiking Trails

This picturesque natural area and its proximity to Hendersonville, Asheville, Brevard, and other western North Carolina communities provide visitors with numerous hiking options. Experienced trekkers or those simply looking for a short walk are welcome – both will find something fun in Mills River Valley Overlook’s surrounding trails!

Hiking enthusiasts looking for more of an adventure may prefer heading south for several miles along the Parkway from Overlook and exploring its many side trails that wind through South Mills River’s rugged backcountry, connecting with those found along Bent Creek and Davidson River to create longer loops for overnight backpacking trips.

Looking Glass Rock is a beloved landmark, visible from many points throughout its vicinity and often seen on postcards. A hike along this iconic trail provides stunning 360-degree views from its summit – truly worth experiencing for yourself!

Sliding Rock is another popular hike featuring a sizeable smooth granite rock that serves as a sliding surface during wet periods. While offering spectacular views of its associated waterfall, visiting during drier weather allows visitors to take advantage of these water slides best.

Cultural and Historical Landmarks

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway are numerous spots to stop and learn more about the region’s rich culture and history. Many parks and overlooks offer interpretive displays highlighting Native American activity or early settlement in an area. At Humpback Rocks and Peaks of Otter, you can read up on that history, while at Humpback Rocks & Peaks of Otter, you can observe Native Americans. At the Folk Art Center of Asheville, you can watch artists at work while seeing some of their creations.

Several historic trails wind through this area, and picnic spots where you can relax while taking in breathtaking views. The parkway’s stunning cliff-side overlooks provide breathtaking vistas, with milepost 302.8’s northbound overlook being particularly well suited to witnessing autumn colors as it sits near Rough Ridge (elevation 4,773 feet). At this point, the gorge opens wide, revealing vibrant fall colors along with church spires and homes from villages below, as well as the Great Balsams beyond.

The southernmost section of the Blue Ridge Parkway offers an enthralling series of curves and views that have made this stretch of highway America’s Favorite Drive. Drive through to experience why so many people love driving this stretch, and visit Chestnut Cove Overlook, Stony Fork Park, and Mills River Valley Overlook to create unforgettable mountain memories in North Carolina’s mountains.


The Mills River Valley Overlook is an astounding attraction along the North Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This National Park Service site features hiking trails, cultural landmarks, and breathtaking vistas of nature in all directions.

Contrasting traditional viewpoints that only offer views into one valley at a time, this unique point of interest provides visitors with two spectacular valley views from either side. As such, it has become a prevalent location for sunrise and sunset viewing as well as autumn hawk migration observations. Hikers may take the Mountains-to-Sea Trail up either end to explore further.

This stunning overlook is also an ideal location for birdwatching, with visitors often seeing rare eagles, falcons, or vultures as they take in its natural beauty. Additionally, this scenic spot provides visitors with an incredible opportunity to view fall colors as trees change color and shed their leaves.

Attractions near Waynesville and Brevard in Henderson County make this overlook easily accessible for residents and visitors. Enjoy taking in its spectacular views or make a longer trek out of it; either way, it is sure to please. Don’t miss this must-see destination!