Linville Falls Day – 5/2/14 – 4.2 Miles
So I’ve paid good money down for a four-day hike on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru in early June. I’ve seen the pictures of the steep stone steps, heard some stories, and I need to do some training. Being the goal-setter and list-checker-offer that I am, the motivation for me wasn’t just “get on the stairmaster.” I challenged myself to run/walk/hike 100 miles in May. That’s only 3 miles a day, right?
And I’ll choose hiking whenever I can. Itching to get on a trail somewhere on a Friday, I thumbed through Danny Bernstein’s guidebook, Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and found her writeup of Linville Falls. Went there years ago with small kids in tow. Time to go again.
Linville Falls is accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Milepost 316.4 and marks the beginning of the Linville Gorge Wilderness, part of Pisgah National Forest. The Gorge itself is 12 miles long and 1,400 feet deep with steep cliffs. There are many hiking trails, most unsigned as per wilderness regulations, and it’s easy to get lost. I've hiked along its eastern rim on the Mountains-To-Sea Trail and gotten "very confused for a while." However, the Linville Falls vicinity is well-signed and heavily used.
From the Visitor Center (closed today – no funding?) the Linville Falls Trail goes right and crosses the Linville River on a wide concrete bridge. From there three side trails to the left go to different viewpoints.
The Upper Falls View
Painted trilliums along the trail
Erwin’s View. The calendar says early May but spring hasn’t quite sprung here. This view during fall color is epic.
Lots of people around today, including two families with a crew of seven very small children. Home schoolers? I also passed a busload of Hispanic children and adults. School field trip? The kids were full of energy, running up the trail, hiding behind trees. I hope their adults caught up to them before they reached the overlooks.
Back at the Visitor Center, the trail to the left leads to the Plunge Basin Overlook and then down to the Linville River’s edge. I encountered only one person on this section. The trail to the Plunge Basin is moderate. Then continuing on the Linville Gorge Trail down to the river, the going is much rougher and steeper with a little bit of rock scrambling, giving an idea of the character of the backcountry trails.
Plunge Basin Overlook
Zooming in – see how the powerful water has carved into the rock before spilling out into the pool
Ladder on the trail to the river. Once I reached the water’s edge, I carefully picked my way around and over large boulders to get as close to the waterfall as possible.
Front row seat. What a wonderful place to be on a warm spring day!
After a lovely day on the trails, driving home was pure punishment, brutal workday afternoon traffic. Note to self: never to try to re-enter urban life on a weekday. Next time I’ll take a tent.