Explore the most popular trail running trails in Linville Gorge Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This is such a unique hike! You get good views of Lake James early on and they don’t stop as you reach the top and beyond. Lots of ledges to look out on and plenty of great camping spots along the way and at the top. Not a big time commitment either - Really loved this hike.

backpacking
9 days ago

The access road *is* accessible in a sedan. I managed to get a Charger up it, in the rain, with minimal fuss. Just be mindful of the blind corners, as most of the road is only wide enough for one vehicle.

PLENTY of water available from top to bottom this week. Just listen for water (and/or use your topo!) and you’ll find’em.

This is definitely a difficult hike when fully kitted out. I noticed the majority of people were carrying small day packs. Once you hit the switchbacks, you’re committed. The trail is well marked and clear, but definitely sketchy in a few areas and rather strenuous on the way up (and down!). Summer heat/humidity plus thunderstorms made for an interesting (and tedious) ascent.

Definitely doing this one again. I set up camp in a clearing just past the Gully Pipe, my hammock just a few feet from a cliff overlooking the Gorge. Absolutely stunning views at sunset, the sounds of the river almost 1,000 feet below and a gentle breeze made for an incredible site.

All said, an amazing trail and definitely worth doing. Just remember to do your part and LNT while visiting.

The first 1.4 miles is mostly an uphill, rocky climb to the summit. After that, the trail flattens out, but it becomes more overgrown and quite narrow. There are several rock outcroppings after about the 1-mile mark with amazing views of the Gorge and Lake James. There's almost no shading on the trail, so hike early and bring a lot of water, especially in the summer. I hiked after a lot of rain, and there was also quite a bit of water on the trail. Overall, this is a great trail with fantastic views as you climb higher.

hiking
21 days ago

On July 13, 2018 ( a humid day) my family undertook to hike this trail while we visited the area from Missouri. Despite hesitations from my wife and the relative young age of our boys (9 and 7) I remained strong in my conviction to see this place on earth as I have heard it is beautiful. It was as stated by the reviews rugged and steep. To reach the top was work. This was offset by wild blue berry eating along the way. It was all worth it. The view from the top is spectacular. There is a nice view up the gorge and of a few of the distinct area peaks not to mention the scenery is generally great. By the time we were descending the last half mile we were out of water and the troops were decidedly weary. Still this was one of our best family hikes.

backpacking
1 month ago

This is a very tough trail with multiple steep inclines, two river crossings, and lots of rocks and tree roots along the trail. To complete the trail I highly recommend downloading a map on your phone to use as a GPS because of the trails extremely limited trail signs and I also recommend three full days and two nights to get the most enjoyment from the trail. I completed the loop on 7-14-18 and experienced rain and very wet conditions, also the majority of the trail was very overgrown with lots of fallen trees, briers, and tree limbs across the trail even at some points where you couldn’t see your feet while walking along the trail. Overall this loop features cool views and many neat places to set up camp but I definitely recommend it to experienced hikers as every mile on the Linville Gorge feels like two miles.

Killer hike. Hiked a 10 miler (round trip) along the east side of the Gorge. Went an extra 2 miles after I reached the Shortoff Summit. Probably got close to 1,400 feet in elevation gain, so I was at about 3,100 feet. A lot of views south of Lake James on the way up. The views to the north and to the west were the gifts that kept on giving once the trail flattened out. Sick views of Table Rock Mtn and below into the Gorge. Grandfather Mtn was in the back behind Table Rock, and Mt Mitchell was in the distance behind the west ridgeline.

Attempt number one to summit.... I’ll be back tomorrow.

backpacking
1 month ago

Very difficult trail. Tried it as a beginner and it humbled my friends and I very quickly. We encountered terrible weather and we had a very difficult time dealing with the terrain. There are very few flat areas on the trail, it is constant elevation change. I do not recommend if you aren’t a veteran hiker.

I loved this trail. It started thundering and we had three pups with us. The rain poured. I was still willing to finish to the end. We turned around at 1.2 miles approximately. There was a fork in the path. Did NOT know which way to go. Still do not know. I want to try again tomorrow so if anyone knows, it would be great information.

nature trips
1 month ago

Just finished the trail in 3.5 days, 3 nights. The views are amazing, from tops of peaks to the rocky river. Pretty easy to find all the water sources, although a few are a bit of trail in primitive locations. Traveled in mid-Summer (July 4th) so it was very hot, but great to cool down in the Linville River. Highly recommend to those in physical shape, as a few miles were straight up in elevation without any switchbacks. Out of seven of us, only three didn’t feel total exhaustion after the “Shortcut”. Also, almost stepped on a five foot rattle snake that was 6” from the trail, but it definitely let us know it was there with its rattle as we walked up on it. Had to hike around it by bushwhacking for a bit, then got back on trail. That was a healthy dose of reality. Saw a few other backpackers, but overall didn’t see other people all that much.

What an expedition! My son and I did it in two days and it was an amazing experience. Definitely need good map and compass though. Better work out this legs beforehand, the climbs are hellish!

It's tough to rate these trails because it's so subjective according to what each person likes, but I just finished the entire LGT with an extension from Wolf Pit Parking area, all the way out Babel Tower as my endpoint. Starting from Wolf Pit Parking area, down Faulker Flats, cross the river to the MST, then link up to Leadmine trail, then to LGT and finally Babel Tower trail. It was a brutal link up in this June heat (83 today and 2000% humidity). The gnats and ticks were ridiculously thick in the lower section of the gorge all the way to Conley Cove. Plenty of campsites, lots of good water to filer but very slick rocks, tons of downed trees to cross. So, somehow it seems much, much harder than it looks on paper. It's often referred to as 'gorge miles' because its very deceptive until you experience it for yourself. When you're looking at this thing on the map your mind says, 'it just runs flat by the river', but with all the log crossings, high steps and ridiculously slick wet rock it just makes you really work for every mile. Legs feel like someone has taken a baseball bat to them after exiting Babel Tower on my third day. I chose this link up to fish up the river. Very challenging but it will reward you, guaranteed.

hiking
1 month ago

This was honestly just "meh" for me. The east side is pretty nice -- you're up high, with cool rock formations and, at times, good views of the gorge. The west side is pretty boring for the most part -- most of the west side follows the river and is incredibly flat. I was also pretty disappointed by the number of campsites (way too many), and the amount of trash at those campsites -- especially on the west side. It hardly feels like a wilderness area -- it's much more "frontcountry" than backcountry.. Water was plentiful when I went: when you're up on the east side, on the ridge, there are parts where there's not water but it's not too bad. Besides that water is abundant. I'm a young male with average athleticism and the hike was pretty easy for me -- there were definitely hard parts, don't get me wrong, but I finished it in a day and a half (one full day, one night, plus a half day). Use the free map available (for app and for printing) on the linville gorge website. The northern river crossing required a quick swim which I didn't bother to strip down for; there was a rope system that allowed you to pull your pack across over the water. The southern river crossing was an easy walk across a broad section of the river. Very few mosquitoes.

1 month ago

Pine gap is a good trail with about three campsites and a really nice lazy river type swimming hole can’t go wrong for a one or two nighter

Great trail! The first part is rocky and a bit steep but rewarding views at the top! Looks like it has some great camping spots but we just did out & back.

Beautiful views of the gorge. Hiked during late winter, so it was quite nippy and icy throughout the hike. During the summer, be sure to stay safe, but if hiking the winter, watch for the ice on the rocks! Fantastic views!

Solid hike - We hiked in 5 miles to the base of the chimneys and hiked out the next day. There are only a few water sources other than at the top so plan ahead.

This trail is by far my very favorite trail that I have hiked in NC. Great views I mean fantastic views of the gorge. Wild blueberries growing along side the trail. Great views of Lake James. Steep incline at first and then it flattens out at the top of the trail. There is a pond and shade at that point. This trail is spectacular in so many ways! My 14 yr old Dixie trekked it with me on her birthday. Happy Trails!

backpacking
2 months ago

The views of St James Lake get better as you go further up the trail. Linville gouge is one of the first protected natural areas in the USA, and you will see why when you reach the top. Happy Hiking and don t forget you water

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing hike, did it in two days, with 15 miles the first day and rest the second. Started at 0900 camped around 1700 at a campsite by Cambric Branch on the west side of river. Beautiful views and challenging uphill sections. The route to the Chimneys is brutal if it's sunny and hot out.

This is a fantastic out-and-back trail that climbs to the top of the south end of Linville Gorge with incredible views of the river below and the Gorge beyond.

One of my favorite hikes ever. Beautiful views of Linville Gorge. One you reach the top it’s an easy hike. Haven’t went all the way to table rock yet but half way

It earns it hard rating but the views are worth it! Not blazed and many fallen trees so stay on path. There are no easy crossings with the spence ridge bridge out and all the rapids, other crossings are not well marked. There are some non-rocky areas for tent camping around Babel Tower and about 4mi in from Pine Gap.

This trail was incredible! The views were amazing throughout the entire hike. Definitely a strenuous workout but well worth it.

started hiking a bit after sunrise, didnt finish because i needed to be back by sunset. Trail had a lot of fallen trees across it and was kinda overgrown. got lost for a few miles and had to bushwhack back to trail because it isnt marked, probably almost died once or twice. 10/10 would recommend

great trail with steep section at sitting bear. Much easier drive if you start from sitting bear or hawksbill and go out to gingercake. bonus if you add hawksbill-and lunch there-on the way back

amazing must see hike. initial ascent is a bit rough with rocky steps but then is an easy flat wandering along the edge of the gorge and through burnt rocky wilderness. went 3.8 miles out, tons of primitive campsites, before the trail began descending to the chimneys (and then back up to table rock)

Great hike!! One of my favorites in the area!! Definitely challenging but worth it!

camping
3 months ago

Great hike ... if you can get across the river. When they say swim they mean it. There are times of the year it is impossible to cross because of the flow. Very few water resupply options from the top of Shortoff at the Wolf Pit entrance (the pipe) through to well past Table Rock. Saw more than a few people begging water up top. There is a source if you are desperate past the parking lot a couple hundred yards down the gully to the left of the access up to Table Rock where the trail breaks into two. Not a huge flow, but if you are desperate it works. Wide variety of camp sites. Permits needed on weekends in the summer.

Pretty hard hike but the payoff is worth the effort.

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