Plane Crash at Waterrock Knob – Sylva, North Carolina - Atlas Obscura
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Plane Crash at Waterrock Knob

Hidden amid a collection of trails is the site of a tragic crash. 

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This nearly 40-year-old plane wreckage is located near the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. A moderately difficult two-mile round trip hike from the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center and trailhead in Sylva, North Carolina lead to the wreckage. 

The trail begins at the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center and continues for a quarter mile up a well-marked, paved path to an observation point of the valley below. The trail turns to dirt and continues for another quarter mile until Waterrock Knob.

After traversing a few other trails, visitors will come upon the wreckage of a Cessna 414A which crashed in 1983. Pilot error, poor weather conditions, and other fatal mistakes all played a role in the crash that claimed both lives on board.

Due to the rugged terrain of the region, only the engines were salvageable. The rest of the aircraft was left on the mountainside.

Know Before You Go

Take the Blue Ridge Parkway to mile marker 451.2 into the Waterrock Knob Visitor Center located in Sylva, NC to begin the hike to the crash site. 

Just before reaching the top of the Knob, there is a trail to your left. Follow this trail for half of a mile to reach Browning Knob. Here, you will see the third trail on your left. This leads down the mountainside for approximately 200 yards to reach the crash site

If you plan to visit, it's recommended to hike with a partner or let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return, as there are many unmarked side trails, difficult terrain, and steep drops along the way. It can be easy to get lost or miss the trail that leads to the crash site.

You will find the crash site at latitude 35.46354, longitude -83.13207. 

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