The upper falls pool quietly before making a dramatic plunge. Photo by Megan Mulloy.
Linville Falls is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Trails lead to views of both the upper and lower falls. Forests offer virgin hemlock mixed with other familiar trees such as white pine, oaks, hickory, and birch. A colorful and varied display of wildflowers decorates the trails in the spring. Red and golden leaves in fall beautifully contrast with the soothing green of hemlocks.
Hours: Dawn until dusk, year-round.
Picnic tables: Yes
Camping: Yes, at Linville Falls Campground, located nearby.
Hiking Trails/Best Views: From the Blue Ridge Parkway, two main hiking trails lead to beautiful views of the Linville Falls. Both begin at the Linville Falls Visitor Center, which is operated by the National Park Service. The trails range in difficulty from moderate to strenuous.
Erwins View Trail, a moderate walk of 1.6 miles round trip, offers hikers four overlooks, each revealing a different aspect of the Linville Falls area. The first overlook is 0.5 mile from the visitor center, and is a moderate walk with a slight loss of elevation. Here, the Linville River spills gently over the upper falls where it widens and pauses. Drifting into a narrow canyon, the water suddenly spirals out of sight and plunges 45 feet over the lower falls.
The next overlook, Chimney View, 0.7 mile from the visitor center, is the first point on the trail where the lower falls can be seen. It offers an excellent chance to photograph both the upper and lower falls. The overlook is named for the chimney-like outcroppings located to the right of the waterfall. The trail is strenuous in this area with considerable elevation gain. At Gorge View Overlook, hikers can see the Linville River cutting its way through the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area.
The Erwins View Trail ends at Erwins View Overlook, 0.8 mile from the visitor center. From this vantage point, hikers can enjoy a panoramic view of the Linville Gorge and a distant view of the upper and lower falls.
The trails to Linville Gorge (1.4 miles round trip) and to Plunge Basin (1 mile round trip) also start at the visitor center. The trail to Linville Gorge forks 0.2 mile from the visitor center. The right fork takes hikers to Plunge Basin Overlook where they can view the lower falls and the Chimneys. The left fork winds down through rock cliffs to the bottom of the falls where the force of the water cascading over the falls creates a large pool. Both of these trails are strenuous. Swimming and climbing on the rocks are prohibited.
How to Get There
The falls are located at Mile Post 316.3 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, north of where US 221 crosses the Parkway and south of where NC 181 crosses the Parkway.
Access to the Falls can also be obtained from the Kistler Memorial Highway, 105. At the Linville Falls Community, take NC 183 for 1/2 a mile. Turn right on NC 105. Go 1/10 of a mile to the parking lot on the left. The Linville Falls trail is .5 miles long and connects to the Park Service trail system.