Linville Gorge, NC: our favorite hiking trails, backpacking adventures and campsites

Linville Gorge hiking, camping & adventure guide: best hikes, trails and backpacking adventures

Explore the stunning Linville Gorge Wilderness near Asheville, hiking to stunning mountaintop views, exploring tumbling waterfalls and camping in prime backcountry campsites.

Tumbling waterfalls. Towering mountain summits. Sheer canyon walls. And mile after mile of exceptionally beautiful, rugged hiking and backpacking trails, exploring the gorge’s remote backcountry. The immense beauty, immense size and staggering depth of Linville Gorge are breathtaking, making it one of our favorite, adventure-worthy destinations in western North Carolina.

Explore waterfalls, whitewater and epic views from mountain summits at Linville Gorge, northeast of Asheville, NCAbove: explore the tumbling cascades of lower Linville Falls on the Plunge Basin Trail

The Linville River carves deep into the Pisgah Forest northeast of Asheville, making a spectacular entrance into the gorge at the plunging cascades of Linville Falls. From there, the river courses through the deep-cut gorge, flowing nearly 2,000 feet below the bordering mountain ridges. Rising high above the gorge floor, mountains, pinnacles and ridges offer epic, see-forever views from their summits, and birds of prey soar high in the thermal updrafts created by this rugged, dramatic landscape.

Explore  Linville Gorge in North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest, hiking to waterfalls and lofty mountain summitsAbove: catch stunning views from the Table Rock Mountain summit

Linville Falls is an ultra-popular stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville, well-loved for its moderately challenging, yet immensely breathtaking, hiking trails to Linville’s tumbling upper and lower waterfalls. The Linville Gorge Wilderness spans an incredible 11,000+ acres, rising high to mountain summits and plunging low into the whitewater-filled gorge.

Explore the gorge’s beauty on our favorite Linville Gorge hiking and backpacking trails. And extend the adventure with an overnight under the stars on the East Rim’s primitive backcountry campsites.

Linville Gorge: our favorite hikes and campsites

Hike the Hawksbill Mountain Trail to stunning summit views from this angular, rocky mountaintop on Linville Gorge's east rim

LINVILLE GORGE EAST RIM

Hawksbill Mountain Trail

Hike Hawksbill Mountain to epic sunrises, epic sunsets and simplpy incredible views from a jagged, beak-like, rocky mountain summit. Perched high on Linville Gorge’s eastern rim, the views from Hawksbill’s 4,000+ foot summit are incredible, stretching from nearby Table Rock Mountain and Shortoff Mountain to the tumbling cascades of Linville Falls nearly 2,000 feet below.

2.2 MILES

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Hike the Shortoff Mountain Trail to spectacular views of Lake James, Table Rock Mountain and into the steep-walled Linville Gorge

LINVILLE GORGE EAST RIM

Shortoff Mountain Trail

Mile for mile, this is one of Linville Gorge’s most exceptionally beautiful, view-packed trails. Hike the Shortoff Mountain Trail from Wolf Pit Road, climbing to stunning southbound views of Lake James. The trail climbs to Shortoff’s highest elevations, scoring stunning views of the nearby Table Rock Mountain, and the distant Linville Falls nestled deep within the gorge’s depths.

7.4 MILES

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Hike the Table Rock Mountain Trail to breathtaking panoramic views from a soaring summit in North Carolina's Linville Gorge

LINVILLE GORGE EAST RIM

Table Rock Mountain Trail

Explore a rugged, rocky terrain atop this plateau-like peak on Linville Gorge’s eastern rim. Hike the Table Rock Mountain Trail to breathtaking panoramic views from a soaring summit, catching stunning views of the nearby Shortoff Mountain to the south, and Hawksbill Mountain and Linville Falls to the north.

1.8 MILES

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Hike the Plunge Basin Trail to up-close views of Linville Falls, trekking to the base of the falls on the gorge floor

LINVILLE GORGE WEST RIM

Linville Falls Plunge Basin Trail

Hike the Plunge Basin Trail to up-close views of Linville Falls, catching views from a soaring overlook before descending to a wide, glassy pool at the the base of the enormous, thundering waterfall.

1.75 MILES

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Hike to epic views of Linville Gorge’s enormous waterfalls on this Linville Falls Trail two miler

LINVILLE GORGE WEST RIM

Linville Falls Trail: hiking Linville Gorge waterfalls

Hike to epic views of Linville Gorge’s enormous waterfalls on this two-miler on the Linville Falls Trail. It’s easily one of North Carolina’s best and most popular waterfall hikes, accessed from a trailhead directly off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail crosses the Linville River before climbing to gorgeous views of the waterfalls from a series of overlooks, and catches stunning views into the steep-walled depths of Linville Gorge.

2.2 MILES

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Hike Linville Falls in winter to frozen waterfalls and rocky cliffs lined with icicles in western North Carolina's Linville Gorge

LINVILLE GORGE WEST RIM

Hiking Linville Falls in Winter

When the Blue Ridge Parkway closes in winter, an alternate trailhead provides great, easy access to the Linville Falls Trail and Plunge Basin Trail. Hike from this winter-access spur trail to explore the gorge’s icicle-capped, frosty waterfalls and catch exceptional, snowy wintertime views into the gorge.

4.5 MILES

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Linville Gorge camping: overnight at campsites on the gorge's eastern rim near Hawksbill Mountain

LINVILLE GORGE EAST RIM

Linville Gorge Camping

Up for a long weekend of climbing or hiking in this incredible wilderness? Linville Gorge offers some incredible backcountry primitive campsites on the east rim, perfect car-camping basecamps for a weekend of hiking, climbing or backpacking in the gorge.

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Hiking gear list: what to pack on day hikes, our favorite, trail-tested gear

WHAT TO PACK?

Hiking gear list: our favorite, trail-tested gear

Ready to hit the trail, but wondering what to pack? Our hiking gear list details our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear that we’ve used – and loved – over thousands of miles on the trails throughout the South. From backpacks to safety gear (and a few extras thrown in for fun), our gear list offers the essentials to help inspire your own packing list.

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Let’s hit the trail, Asheville!   #ashevilletrails

Western North Carolina's beauty is simply stunning. From Asheville's urban biking and running trails to the curvy meanders of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and from the towering heights of Mount Mitchell to the shady, cool, waterfall-filled valleys of the Pisgah National Forest, there's a whole lot of outdoor beauty to be seen in Western NC.

Snap a selfie from a hike to your favorite mountain summit, a group shot of your favorite hiking buddies, or a morning sunrise from your trail run off the Blue Ridge Parkway... we'd love to see your adventures! Share your photos with us! Tag them #ashevilletrails on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We'll share our favorites, as well as our own favorite shots!