Explore the most popular wildlife trails near Morganton 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.

Amazing views! A religious experience and I’m an atheist.

backpacking
8 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
16 days ago

1 mile round trip moderate hike with beautiful sites along the way, from views to flowers, and natural beauty everywhere you turn. What an incredible view from the top too, and the scents of flowers fills the air.

hiking
20 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.

hiking
21 days ago

This was a pretty easy trail to get to the top. We were up and back down to the parking lot in an hour, with a few stops to enjoy the view.

Definitely a tough trail, if you go via Spencer Ridge trail. This loop has white blazes and near the split to Table Rock it's a white plastic circle on the tree.

My husband and I just did this trail and had a lot of fun. I agree with other reviewers that the first half of the trail is hard and labeling the trail as moderate could be misleading. The trail goes straight up for the first few miles over roots and rocks and there are no switchbacks. It's pretty tough climbing. The trip down is much easier and may be why the loop is labeled as moderate. Be aware though, the first part is not easy by any means but the views are worth it. We didn't go all the way to the Chimneys, instead we turned around about halfway down that section and hiked up to the top of Table Rock for a spectacular view.

At least 3 mile drive in on rutty gravel road to reach trailhead, and half of the trail is closer to “hard” than “moderate”, otherwise would give it a five. Beautiful overlooks, but quite rocky, rooty and downed trees on trail

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.

wide, flat, asphalt all purpose trail runs along the river behind the park

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!

Nice, but a great deal of traffic.

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

Nobody has apparently shared anything about this trail- about a solid mile is straight up hill no switchbacks. Based on what is generally rated as “hard” I would rate this as “extra hard”. Views were totally worth it though.

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

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

hiking
2 months ago

This was a beautiful hike and gave us a great view as we are learning our new home. The only down side was the road there was a bit confusing the first time. Stop and ask any locals you see on your way up... they were very helpful. Follow signs to the picnic area

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)

short, somewhat steep hike to beautiful 360 views of the area.

hiking
3 months ago

Nice hike, but very long and difficult to get to the parking lot. Beautiful views once you get to the top!

Pretty hard hike but the payoff is worth the effort.

love this trail! perfect mix of climbing and level areas. look forward to doing this one again for sure.

Would like to come back in the Spring or fall and do again. Great views from the ridge lines. Walking poles would be useful.

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