Linville Gorge -- often called The Grand Canyon of the Southeast -- is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. Linville Gorge Wilderness encompasses the wild backcountry on either side of the Linville River, which carved the Gorge over millions of years. Trails in the gorge are rugged -- bring your hiking poles if you use them.
Completed the southern section of this trail when we did the southern loop. I give it a 3.5 only because I liked the Shortoff Mountain section WAY better. This trail didn't follow the river as much as I thought it would, and it is a slow go, as there are several obstacles to navigate. There are several nice places to stop near the river and grab a bite, and 5-10 campsites 3 to 7 miles south of Spence Ridge. Very peaceful though, as we only saw one other group the entire section.
This is my favorite trail in the gorge. It has absolutely the best views of the gorge and eastern side valley as you walk the ridge. There are numerous camp sites near the Chimneys and just south of Shortoff Mountain. THERE IS NO WATER ANYWHERE ON THIS TRAIL AS OF NOV 2016. The bog and water tree are dry, so plan accordingly. Take some time to linger around the Chimneys and explore. Many access this trail from Wolf Pit parking lot, but I find it easier to start at Table Rock.
Grabbed the kids, two dogs, wife, and Nana for an overnight backpacking trip in the Linville Gorge. We started at Spence Ridge Trailhead, west to Little Table Rock Trail, up to Table Rock for lunch. This portion I would rate as strenuous, as the elevation gain is steep. Lunch at Table Rock was worth it. Then we back tracked down to Spence Ridge Trail and headed west down into the gorge. The gorge itself is beautiful. The bridge is washed out, so you have to bolder hop across. At least three camping options along Spence Ridge Trail. The next morning, we hiked back out to the car. Easy two days. Could also easily be done in one day. I rated this particular trail as a 3 because there are limited (really no) views until you reach the gorge itself.
I am not rating this trail on the hike itself but on what awaits you when you get to the end of the short paved trail. It is just an awesome sight to view this beautiful Gorge from such a vantage point! I will definitely go back and take people with me! I might mention that the 4 mile ride on the dirt/gravel road is pretty tough and hard on your vehicle, just take it easy. There are lots of other wonderful trails of the access road.
This trail is very deceiving. The trail head starts out real level and solid. It then takes a sharp turn down. Loose rocks and roots. The descent is easy. However, what goes down must come up. The hike back up sucks. I couldn't find good hammock camping by the river. Ended up hiking back to the car and camping by table rock.
A short walk to two amazing lookout points nearly 1500 feet above the Linville River and the deepest gorge in the eastern US. It is also a stunning vantage point for Hawksbill Mountain and Table Rock. Not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway, head south from Linville Falls, NC and take a gravel Rt. 1238 for about four miles. For the most part it was not in bad shape during my visit in April, but I imagine it can be difficult after bad weather. It is definitely worth it though for that unbelievable view!