From its source on Grandfather Mountain, the Linville River flows into Lake James at the edge of the Piedmont. Along the way, it has sculpted a breathtaking gorge framed by Jonas Ridge on the east and Linville Mountain on the west. Located in the vast Pisgah National Forest, the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area is home to abundant wildlife, remnants of virgin forest, and several rare plants. The area also provides a rugged 12,000 acres of adventure for outdoors enthusiasts.
Deep Gorge Hiking
Linville Gorge is a perfect destination for the hiker who enjoys a challenge. There are 39 miles of trails, including the 11.5-mile Linville Gorge Trail, which parallels the west bank of the river and runs the length of the gorge. Topographic maps and a compass are a must, as the trails tend to disappear and are only marked at the trailheads. Those who brave the rugged terrain are well rewarded by views of the river as it makes its 2,000-foot descent.
The Cherokee word for the river was Eeseeoh, meaning “river of many cliffs.” Rock formations along Jonas Ridge and long canyon walls after the ridge provide excellent climbing opportunities. Table Rock Mountain is the most popular starting point, and its East Face is ideal for beginners. Another access point can be found at Shortoff Mountain, at the southern end of the gorge. The Devil’s Cellar and the Chimneys are popular among top rope climbers, because it is easy to rig anchors on the craggy formations.
View the Falls
A trip to Linville Gorge would not be complete without stopping by the famous falls. The 90-foot waterfall is a double cascade that falls into a pool above the gorge. The Linville Falls Recreation Area includes three trails of varying difficulty that lead to overlooks.