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Linville Gorge Loop

HARD 82 reviews
#8 of 45 trails in

Linville Gorge Loop is a 21.4 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Newland, North Carolina that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 21.4 miles Elevation Gain: 5,308 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

running

forest

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

bridge out

Rough terrain, primitive camping, beautiful vistas, strenuous climbs, cool features. You must be prepared and locate water sources ahead of time on topo maps. Trails are not clearly marked, but you can traverse them with a map. There is an alternate start point at the Table Rock parking area. See reviews for seasonal info- some river crossings may not be possible during times of higher water levels. This area experiences a lot of Search and Rescue calls - make sure you are prepared!

blowdown
bridge out
muddy
off trail
over grown
rocky
18 days ago

I love Linville Gorge, me and my wife came here for her first real hike she had a rough time in parts but she stuck through to the end and loved it. We spent 5 days camping and hiking. The reviews saying you need more than a map are false, our need to gain some life skills. Even my wife you gets lost with Google maps gps was able to navigate easily. Yes the bridge is out. but so what there's plenty of areas the are shallow enough to Wade through with pack above water. or take about 50foot a rope to ferry your pack across. I'm doing it again in May, for 5 days with a buddy. and 3 days of waterfall hunting.

bridge out
muddy
off trail
over grown
rocky
washed out
1 month ago

Honestly, my hiking partner wanted me to give this 2 stars, but it's a hell of a story and we did have a good time. So first things first. When they say you need a trail map and to know how to read it...no. if we only had a map, we would be dead right now, and we're not exactly short on land nav skills. Parts of this trail are in fact blazed for MST, which is serviceable for the hike. Inside the gorge, you're on your own. and when they say the bridge is out and it's a difficult crossing...they mean it. One of our group was nearly swept away when she overshot a jump and slipped. The current is brutal and the rocks you have to jump to are very far apart. Once you've crossed, it's a whole other hot mess. A series of bad storms have taken down several dozen trees over the next 8 miles. You'll be climbing, weaving, and ducking for hours. It cut our time badly. And because so much of the trail is damaged, it's difficult to keep the path even with a map. We used Avenza on recommendation from a ranger and it literally saved us more times than I can count. Coming down the river, the whole thing is flooded and several campsites are in bad condition or potentially even washed out after the storm we were caught in. There's a pretty bad 4 mile stretch where you have minimal coverage and are very close to the water. When we started getting caught in a downpour, we ducked into an overhang for the night, and thank god we did because the sheer amount of newly felled trees in the morning means it's very likely we would have been crushed or struck by the lightning that was hitting our cave above us. If you can't make it out of the riverfront in a day, shelter down in a well covered cave or elevated site and take the extra day. Coming back out of the gorge, the trail is...horrific. not just unmarked, but basically minimally traveled it seems because you can't tell what's the path and what's a game trail. It's narrow, crumbly, and treacherous. This hike almost NEEDS poles to stabilize yourself, if you don't have great balance. It's a few brutal miles of up and down several ridges on a difficult to find path that's less than a foot wide in places. If you're planning on hiking down to the second crossing instead of coming out to the road, don't bother. The river is uncrossable these days. Maybe it's doable in the height of summer, but any later or earlier in the season it's washed out badly. So is the social trail with the pulley system (and that's already so damn close to the road...you might as well just use the bridge.) In total, what should have been a strenuous but doable 22 miles in 48 hours rapidly turned to almost 30 from trail problems and backtracking. This hike isn't for the faint of heart, the new hiker, or the easily frustrated. And if you're active duty like us and on a tight time hack...skip it until you have a long weekend. You'll be grateful for the extra days. Is it worth it? Absolutely. But I believe their sign about having some of the highest SAR numbers in the nation...not from lack of preparedness, but because this is the shittiest, most dangerous trail I've ever been on. Still, awesome. Would totally do it again.

hiking
bridge out
2 months ago

Just finished the loop going counter clockwise in 1.5 days. Both river crossing are doable just plan to get your feet wet. The northern crossing can be sketchy depending on your comfort level. I saw two groups turn back. Got off track a couple of times in the southwestern woods. This app helped right my course. A fun one for sure!

hiking
bridge out
off trail
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Bridge is out, loop hike cannot be done. All trails needs to remove this hike. Seems to possibly be a small footbridge at a choke in the river but it had just rained a lot, couldn't find a safe way to cross near Spence ridge.

hiking
3 months ago

This was a difficult hike. If you choose to park at shortoff mountain trailhead and go counter clockwise, bring plenty of water for your first day. INCREDIBLE VIEWS THE ENTIRE HIKE. Lots of scenic overlooks and camp sites at the higher elevations. West side of the gorge can seem daunting and never ending. There are lots of narrow trails and down trees throughout. Mountain to Sea Trail was pretty well groomed and very well marked (White Dots). Had an awesome time, felt very well accomplished when we returned to the car.

hiking
bridge out
rocky
3 months ago

hiking
bridge out
3 months ago

hiking
blowdown
bridge out
3 months ago

hiking
blowdown
bridge out
over grown
3 months ago

hiking
blowdown
bridge out
bugs
over grown
rocky
4 months ago

I would like to start by saying that we knew this was going to be a challenge. And it absolutely was. The starting climb on Shortoff to the MTS was only a small taste of what was to come. We completed 12 miles the first day with some INCREDIBLE views. The Chimneys were my personal favorite. Keep an abundant supply of water for this first leg and have a filtration system. You will need it. If you make it to Linville River that day, have your water shoes ready. The bridge is out and the crossing is tough after a full day. We made camp at a primitive hammock site not far from the crossing with the sound and view of a waterfall. Day 2 started easy enough but the trail hit a few very technical spots and was almost completely vertical in others. The shortcut trail back to the MTS was no joke either. The last river crossing was a Godsend. I've never felt such relief being able to lay in that cool, flowing water. Then comes the final ascension. I consider myself in great physical condition and I barely made it that last 2.5 miles. It took everything I had in reserves. We ended up clocking 25.5 miles total for 2 days. Come prepared if you're going to tackle this one. You'll need all your strength and more than a little determination. The views, serenity and overall sense of accomplishment make it all worthwhile in my book. Good luck and happy trails!

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