Linville Gorge, in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, is 12,000 acres of some of the most rugged terrain in the Eastern United States. A true wilderness area, Linville Gorge is an untamed area with dense forests and thriving wildlife. Part of the Pisgah National Forest, the gorge encloses the Linville River for 12 miles with its steep canyon walls. The gorge is so demanding that the U.S. Army Special Forces perform training exercises here to prepare for small-scale, specialized operations.
Linville Gorge Top Two Must-Sees
Linville Falls, with four drops over a total of 150′, is the crown jewel in Linville Gorge. Legend has it that the Cherokee would cast their enemies over the falls, sending them to their death. Surrounded by dense forest and exposed granite, the falls is one of the most visited destinations in North Carolina.
There are two hiking trails to the falls that lead to five different vantage points, all with spectacular views. A convenient and easy access point is also available off of the Blue Ridge Parkway that requires only a short trek.
The falls are as dangerous as they are beautiful, so swimming and climbing around the falls is prohibited. The only person known to have survived the final 45′ cascade was a brave and determined kayaker in 2010.
Wiseman’s View is one of the most popular mountain destinations in North Carolina. The remote overlook offers spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Linville River 1500′ below. Just a 20-minute drive from the Parkway, visitors will find easy access near the Linville Falls Pisgah National Forest Parking lot.
Linville Gorge Adventure
With 39 miles of trails, from short, easy-to-follow trails with great views, to meandering, steep excursions through dense forest. Trails south of the Conley Cove Trail and near Brushy Ridge offer less traveled, more solitary hikes for experienced hikers. Most of the trails are signed only at trail-heads, so only seasoned hikers experienced with topographical maps and compasses should attempt hiking these trails. Checking in with the Ranger’s station is highly recommended before entering the wilderness for hiking or any other activity.
The best time for any hiking is Spring and early Summer before the Timber Rattlers and Copperheads become active. Once Summer is in full bloom, the vegetation grows more dense, adding to the difficulties of navigating the gorge. While there are many safe and well-traveled trails, visitors should be prepared for the sheer wildness of the area. Cellphone reception is very spotty, and about fifty adventurers get lost and require rescue each year.
There are plenty of camping and backpacking options around the gorge, but always make sure you get a permit and check in at the Ranger’s station. On-trail campsites are available near the summits for backpackers and climbers, and there are many scattered campsites. For a little more convenience, car camping is available near Spencer Ridge, and the Linville Falls Campground offers family camping, an RV park, and even cabins.
Recreational climbing is available throughout the gorge, from Linville Mountain on the west to Jonas Ridge on the east. The variety of climbing opportunities on Jonas Ridge, like Hawksbill, Table Rock, and The Chimneys offer challenging climbs for experienced rock climbers.
Exit 105 on I-40, take Highway 18 north to Morganton, then left on 181 north for 20 miles to the town of Jonas Ridge. For the eastern section, turn left at the “Table Rock Picnic Area” sign. For the western section, continue north on 181 and turn left on 183, then left on Kistler Memorial Highway.
For More Information
U.S. Forest Service
160A Zillicoa St.
Asheville, NC 28802
(828) 257- 4200