An almost magical place in the forest. Once a year, thousands of daffodils bloom at this special place in Linville Gorge.
On the Southern side of the Linville Gorge Wilderness, just next to Linville River, is a late Winter or early Spring treasure that can be reached by the adventurous and experienced hiker – Daffodil Flats. This unique spot in the forest, as the story goes, was part of an old homestead where some daffodils were planted by the homesteaders wife. Today The old house is nowhere to be found but the daffodils have multiplied into a massive field of yellow when visited at just the right time; usually late February or early March. It is a beautiful spot to visit that is just off the Linville River but the hike to reach Daffodil Flats is extremely strenuous and should only be attempted by the experienced hiker. There are also a few different ways to reach Daffodil Flats but we will describe the route from “The Pinnacle”. This route has a round trip distance of just over 6 miles.
The Pinnacle trail is located on Old NC Highway or Kistler Memorial Highway. The trailhead isn’t marked but if you approach from the South it will be the first trailhead you encounter. If you approach from the North, it will be the last trailhead you encounter. Look for the white blazes from the Mountains to Sea Trail that should be visible from the road. Highway 105 is unpaved and, while it can be rough at times, most cars should have no problem navigating the road. The small parking area at the trail only has room for about 4 or 5 vehicles. While there are no restroom facilities at the trailhead, there are some up the road at Wiseman’s View. The trailhead is about 75 minutes from Asheville North Carolina or 2 hours from Charlotte North Carolina.
The trail borrows a section of the white blazed Mountains to Sea trail and starts at the end of the parking lot just next to the large boulders. Initially you are on a gradual ascent for just a short distance as you walk up to The Pinnacle which is worth checking out before continuing. The Pinnacle provides views in every direction including the massive stone walls of Shortoff Mountain just across the gorge. The Pinnacle is a destination unto itself so it is a nice bonus stop for any trip to Daffodil Flats.
Continuing on the Mountains to Sea trail you will start a steep descent down the ridge as you work your way down to the gorge. After a mile you will reach a 4 way intersection where the leadmine trail comes in from the left. It isn’t marked as the Leadmine trail but there is a sign indicating distances to various spots up the gorge. Follow the Leadmine trail to the left where you will ascend and descend several gullies as you work your up the gorge and eventually down to Linville River. Some of the gullies are somewhat steep and there are a few creek crossings, although none of them are too bad.
After crossing several gullies the trail will turn right and steeply descend down to Linville River. Look for the small “Dry Shortcut” sign that is posted on a tree. As the trail reaches the bottom of the ridge the trail may become faint but if you continue towards the river you will pick up the Linville Gorge Trail that follows the river up to Daffodil Flats.
From this point it is about one more mile to the flats but the hike is mostly level as you parallel beautiful Linville River up the gorge. You will pass through a few campsites and will almost always have the enormous Shortoff Mountain visible just across the river. This is really a beautiful spot in the gorge so take your time and enjoy it.
As you near Daffodil Flats, if the flowers are in bloom, you will likely see a few patches of Daffodils just before you reach the flats which will be unmistakable when you reach them. Just look for the large yellow patch about 100ft off the trail to your left. Look for the trail off the Linville Gorge Trail leading to the flats.
If you are lucky enough to catch Daffodil Flats in full bloom you will be treated to a massive sea of yellow flowers as there are literally thousands of flowers in this unique spot in the Linville Gorge. It is a wonderful spot to relax at, take some pictures, and maybe have a picnic.
Make sure you get plenty of rest before starting the trek back up to the parking area. The hike up will not be as easy as the hike down. When you are ready to hike back, follow the Linville Gorge Trail down river to the Leadmine trail looking for the posted sign at the start of the trail. When you encounter the Mountains to Sea trail turn right and follow it back up to the parking area.