The Western North Carolina wilderness seems to bring forth one incredible natural wonder after another. The breathtaking sights seem to never end. This section of the state is loaded with incredible waterfalls (over 250 to be exact), and every single one is worthy of a visit. As it would be difficult to see more than a few during a single visit, it is best to focus your attention on the most spectacular, easily accessible falls in the region.
Linville Falls is located along the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway. The parkway, nicknamed “America’s Favorite Drive,” spans 2 states for a total of 469 miles. Linville Falls is located just an hour north of Asheville at Milepost 316 of the Parkway. This is easily one of the most beautiful spots along the North Carolina portion of the drive, and thus, one of the must-do daytrips from Asheville.
Because of its’ immense beauty and easy accessibility, this is (understandably) one of the more popular waterfalls in the state. Fortunately, there is a pretty big parking lot. And, the beautiful setting makes any inconvenient crowding well worth it the end. As everyone hikes at different paces, the trail is not nearly as crowded as you would expect looking at the full parking lot.
Not only is the waterfall itself gorgeous, but the drive over from Asheville is quite beautiful as well.
Linville Falls is a multiple tiered waterfall with a combined height around 150 feet. The hike is slightly challenging and uphill at certain points. Nothing too strenuous, however, you will definitely get your workout in (and more) for the day. The nice thing about this trail is that there are several lookout points, so the trail feels much shorter. Each lookout is spaced out, and thus, you get to enjoy a much needed break in between various hiking sessions. In total, you will hike about a mile and a half if you visit all 4 overlooks.
The tall trees lining the trail immediately transport you into a complete nature wonderland. The forest consists of white pines, hemlock, oak-hickory, and birch trees. Really, despite heavy foot traffic, this trail really is a wonderful trek through the woods and the scenery is so woodsy and peaceful.
The Upper Falls
The first stop along the trail will take you to a viewing area for the Upper falls. A beautiful sight, although the views get even more grand the further you continue on. The hike to this first overlook is about half a mile from the visitor’s center and fairly easy.
Chimney View overlook
Continue on another 3/10 of a mile or so to the Chimney View overlook. This portion of the hike is short, yet strenuous due to the uphill nature. Take your time and continue on for the fabulous view. The 45 foot tall lower falls can be seen at this point.
Gorge view overlook
At this point, you will be treated to a prime view of the beautiful Linville River making its’ way through the Gorge.
The Lower Falls (Erwins View)
Continue on to the last viewpoint, the tremendous Erwin’s View. From here, there is a breathtaking 360 degree view of the gorge, and both the Upper and Lower Falls. This Lower portion is super voluminous which makes for a truly impressive sight. However, even more incredible is the beautiful woody scenery which surrounds the waterfall. This area known as the Linville Gorge Wilderness encompasses over 11,000 acres and is the third largest wilderness region in the state.
A few more gorgeous views of the falls and the Linville Gorge
- Location: Milepost 316.4 Spruce Pine, NC
- Difficulty: Moderate due to several steep sections
- Distance: About 1.5 miles in total
Note: There is not much in the way of dining in this area. I recommend enjoying breakfast in Asheville prior to setting off. Here are a few hotspots to check out.
Where to eat in Asheville
Corner Kitchen – Cozy ambiance inside a historic house in Biltmore Village. Great traditional breakfast fare, decent coffee, good service.
Biscuit Head – Trendy place which serves biscuits “as big as a cat’s head” Try with a gravy flight or mix and match flavors from a self service jam bar. Vegan and gluten-free biscuits available. On the downside, this place is incredibly popular with a line often forming right after opening.
Moose Cafe – Popular with the locals, this country style restaurant serves up a popular $10 all-you-can-eat special. Endless scrambled eggs, biscuits and jam, bacon, and potato casserole are on the lineup. Cute interior with lots of moose and country decor. Not the highest quality food in town, but affordable with a nice relaxed vibe, so perfect pre-hike. Located right next door to the Western North Carolina farmers market.