Traveling The Blue Ridge Parkway • Day 4

Linville Falls North Carolina

One of the highlights of traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway is spending time around Linville Falls. There are almost a dozen trails for hiking with many offering vantage points overlooking the various levels of the falls as the Linville River drops into the Linville Gorge. While most of the trails to the fall’s overlooks are moderate to difficult the views are well worth the effort required.

The geology of the area is fascinating as it was fashioned by a rift where a major layer of rock was forced up over top of another about 275 million years ago forming the Linville Falls Thrust Plate. Millions of years of erosion sculpted the rock into the river’s channel and the amazing Linville Gorge. Surrounding this geologic feature are miles of virgin forest featuring hiking trails through hardwood trees dotted with thickets of rhododendrons.

The Linville Falls are near milepost 316 about a mile North of a route 221 entrance features a Visitors Center, camping and picnic tables. The Linville River flows placidly by the Visitors Center, next to a large parking lot, featuring a bridge and some easy level nearby hiking trails.

If your are looking for an easier hike, there is actually an shorter hike to get to the falls just off route 221 that cuts off almost a half mile of the trip to the upper falls overlook. The falls themselves are actually not in the Blue Ridge Park but are part of the Linville Falls Wilderness Area which has an access parking lot almost a half mile nearer the upper falls overlook.

To reach that lot exit the Parkway at 221 and turn left at the stop sign. Travel a short distance down the road and take the first left. The Wilderness area entrance is less than a mile down on the right. The parking lot is unpaved but a short trail does connect with the trail from the Visitors Center. In addition to the upper falls trail, the lower falls and the Linville gorge overlooks the Wilderness area also has miles of hiking trails suitable for serious wilderness hikers*.

Back at the Linville Falls Visitors Center there is an additional trail that starts off to the left side of the parking lot that will take you to an overlook over the Plunge Pool on the opposite side of the river. The trail starts by going up a short flight of stairs into a section of rhododendrons and is about 0.7 miles round trip.

*Look for a detailed article on these trails soon.

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