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

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.

The Linville River carves deep into the Pisgah Forest northeast of Asheville, making a spectacular entrance into the gorge at the plunging cascades of its namesake 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 the tumbling upper and lower waterfalls. The entire Wilderness area spans an incredible 11,000+ acres, rising high to mountain summits and plunging low into the whitewater-filled gorge.

Linville Gorge: our favorite hikes and campsites

Explore the gorge’s beauty on our favorite hiking and backpacking trails, climbing to sun-drenched summits and exploring the waterfall-filled river deep within its depths. And extend the adventure with an overnight under the stars on the East Rim’s primitive backcountry campsites.

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

    EAST RIM

    Hawksbill Mountain Trail

    2.2 MILES

    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.
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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

    EAST RIM

    Shortoff Mountain Trail

    7.4 MILES

    Mile for mile, this is one of the 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.
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  • Hike the Babel Tower Trail to a towering rock spire and tumbling waterfalls on the floor of Linville Gorge in western NC

    WEST RIM

    Babel Tower Trail

    3 MILES

    Plunge from the gorge’s western rim, exploring a rocky, lush forest and dropping to the towering spire of Babel Tower near the gorge’s floor. The adventure continues its descent, following the Linville Gorge Trail to the Linville River and visiting a series of tumbling waterfalls and water chutes in a rocky landscape framed by the gorge’s sheer walls. It’s a difficult hike, for sure, but the abundant beauty is well worth the effort.
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  • Hike the Table Rock Mountain Trail to breathtaking panoramic views from a soaring summit in North Carolina's Linville Gorge

    EAST RIM

    Table Rock Mountain Trail

    1.8 MILES

    Explore a rugged, rocky terrain atop this plateau-like peak on the 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.
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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

    WEST RIM

    Linville Falls Plunge Basin Trail

    1.75 MILES

    Hike the Plunge Basin Trail to up-close views of the plunging waterfall at the mouth of the gorge, catching views from a soaring overlook before descending to a wide, glassy pool at the the base of the enormous, thundering waterfall.
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  • Hike to epic views of Linville Gorge’s enormous waterfalls on this Linville Falls Trail two miler

    WEST RIM

    Linville Falls Trail

    2.2 MILES

    Hike to epic views of the gorge’s enormous waterfalls on this two-mile adventure. It’s easily one of western 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 the gorge.
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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

    WEST RIM

    Hiking Linville Falls in Winter

    4.5 MILES

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

    EAST RIM

    Linville Gorge Camping

    Up for a long weekend of climbing or hiking in this incredible wilderness? The gorge offers some incredible backcountry primitive campsites on the east rim, perfect car-camping basecamps for a weekend of hiking, climbing or backpacking in this incredibly scenic terrain.
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  • Hiking gear list: our favorite, trail-tested gear and apparel for trail adventures in the South

    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 features our favorite, trail-tested hiking gear for day hikes on local trails and in the backcountry. Our Asheville Trails shirts and longsleeves are printed our ultra-soft tri-blend Trailful shirts, and they’re our favorite for trail adventures all over the South. Our outdoor apparel reviews feature our favorite trail-worthy hiking boots, running shoes, jackets, and layering essentials for the South. And no matter what you pack in, pack it all back out. Please leave no trace and help preserve the beauty of Western NC.
    OUR HIKING GEAR LIST

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