One of the most popular waterfalls along the Blue Ridge Parkway is easily reached via a short trail.
One of the more popular and accessible waterfalls in the Blue Ridge Mountains is the beautiful Linville Falls. It is a spectacular multi-tiered waterfall that plunges down into the Linville Gorge – “Grand Canyon of the Appalachians”. There are numerous viewpoints for the falls with varying hiking distances and ratings.
Linville Falls has multiple trailheads that can be used to reach the falls and various views. The Visitor Center off the Blue Ridge Parkway, is located at mile post 316, has restroom facilities, and is probably the most common approach to the falls however this section will likely be inaccessible during the Winter months as the Parkway is closed. The other trailhead at the US Forest Service parking area, is not too far away and is approached via Highway 221. Look for the signs directing you from 221 to Route 183 and then Old NC Highway 105. While there are not any restroom facilities at the US Forest Service Parking Lot, there are some at the US Forest Service Visitor Center a little further down Old Highway 105. Linville Falls is about 1 hour from Asheville North Carolina or 2 hours from Charlotte North Carolina.
Regardless of where you start, the trails are well marked, easily followed, and offer great views of the falls and the gorge. There are a total of six views or destinations that you can visit at Linville falls:
The first section of views are reached via Erwins View trail which is a moderate 1.6 mile round-trip trek that departs from the visitors center.
Upper Falls view which is about 1/2 mile from the visitors center and is an easy walk with a minor elevation change. This views the upper falls as Linville River widens and pools before it narrows and plunges 45 feet over the lower falls. This area has a large viewing area with informative signage.
Chimney View is about 7/10’s mile from the visitor center or about 3/10’s mile from the top of the Upper Falls views. You can view both the upper and lower falls from this view as it is directly across the gorge. There are two walled viewing sections in this area so be sure to check out the view from both sections.
Further down Erwins view is The Gorge View which is about 8/10’s mile from the visitors center. While you can’t view the falls from this view it does offer exceptional views of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area as the river turns and heads south.
The final destination on Erwins View trail is Erwins View. At 8/10’s mile from the visitor center, we feel that this offers the best view of the falls and the gorge.
The other views, Linville Gorge and Plunge Basin, are reached via the Linville Gorge Trail. Both of these trails are rated as strenuous and depart from the visitor center.
The Plunge Basin is a 1 mile round trip hike and provides views of the lower falls and the chimneys across the gorge. As you hike down the Linville Gorge Trail, the plunge basin is down the right fork.
The left fork takes you down to the bottom of the falls where there is a large pool that was created from the relentless force of the water pounding the bottom of the gorge. While the pool is large and it might look like a refreshing spot to take a dip, it is both dangerous and forbidden to swim in Linville River.
Whether you decide to view Linville Falls from just one of the views or multiple views, you are going to love Linville Falls, Linville Gorge, and the beautiful forest that surrounds it.
All of the destinations are out-and-back hikes so return back to the trailhead you started from when you are done enjoying Linville Falls.