Learn all about the Linn Cove Viaduct and walk underneath it.
The Linn Cove Viaduct is quite possibly one of the most recognizable landmarks along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Pictures of it are instantly recognizable and associated with the Grandfather Mountain section of the Parkway. It is a beautiful engineering masterpiece that is a one of the must-see destinations of the Parkway. The Linn Cove Visitors Center that is located on the South end of the viaduct, offers up plenty of information about this unique structure along with a hiking trail that provides the best views of the viaduct from both underneath and above.
The Linn Cove Visitors Center is located at milepost 304.4 just south of the Viaduct. Look for the sign on the Parkway. The visitors center has a large parking area but it is often inadequate during peak season. If you arrive and can’t find a spot, you can visit one of the other overlooks in the immediate area and then try to come back to find a parking spot. It is definitely worth visiting so be patient and persistent if you are there during peak times. The visitors center is located about 90 minutes from Asheville North Carolina or 1 hour from Johnson City Tennessee. The visitors center has modern restroom facilities.
The Linn Cove Visitors Center is a great spot to visit or stop at if you are traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a little more than your typical overlook with a great view and maybe a hiking trail. It offers all of that plus an informative visitors center and gift shop. You can learn all about the viaduct, view a scale model, purchase related gifts and memorabilia, and even warm yourself by the fireplace during the cooler months. There are also informative plaques and signboards on the grounds around the visitor center building, however the main attraction of the visitors center, in our opinion, is the short 1 mile roundtrip hiking trail that takes you underneath the viaduct for a truly unique perspective of this marvel. The trail ends above the parkway at quite possibly the best and most recognizable photo-op spot for the viaduct. Once you see the view you’ll recognize this perspective as the one you’ve probably seen before in pictures, maps and calendars as this is one of the most photographed spots along the parkway.
The trailhead for the hike starts at the far end of the parking lot opposite the visitors center building. The trail is initially paved and is a nice walk through the woods as you parallel the Parkway and then ease under the Viaduct as it seemingly floats in the air above you. As the paved section of the trail ends, continue up the stairs for about another third of a mile as you borrow a section of the 13 and a half mile Tanawha trail. The observation area is located on a side trail that veers off to the right. Look for the sign to the left of the trail that would direct you back to the parking area as you leave the observation area. Just a few steps on the side trail and you will arrive at a large rock that provides the ideal spot for viewing and taking pictures of Linn Cove Viaduct. It is a great spot to relax, take a few pictures, and enjoy the view; however it might be crowded so limit your time accordingly to allow others time to enjoy the view as well.
This is an out and back hike so when you are done enjoying the view of Linn Cove Viaduct, hike back to the visitors center by heading left on the Tanawha trail back to the parking lot.