North Carolina’s Linville Gorge east rim camping sites are steps away from breathtaking gorge and mountain views, fantastic hiking trails and some of NC’s best climbing.
Linville Gorge, located in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest, is a massive, deep-cut gorge that plunges 2,000 feet deep and stretches 12 miles long. Carved over millenia by the Linville River, the gorge is filled with massive rock formations, steep canyon walls and the ultra-popular (and ultra-beautiful) Linville Falls waterfalls in its depths.
The gorge and surrounding 12,000 acres of Linville Gorge Wilderness offer a wealth of fantastic hiking trails and climbing – arguably some of the best in the state of North Carolina. Just northeast of Asheville by way of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Gorge is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
Up for a long weekend of climbing or hiking in this incredible wilderness? The gorge offers some incredible backcountry primitive campsites on the Linville Gorge east rim.
Linville Gorge east rim: our favorite campsites
On the gorge’s eastern rim, the graveled, meandering Forest Service Road 210 offers easy access to some of Linville Gorge’s best summit hikes, including Hawksbill Mountain, Table Rock Mountain and Spence Ridge. Further south, an ultra-popular extension of the Mountains to Sea Trail climbs to the summit of Shortoff Mountain, offering stunning views of nearby Lake James and northward into Linville Gorge.
Campsites are available on-trail near the summits for climbers and backpackers willing to pack their gear in. But there are a few scattered campsites along FS 210, too, that offer the convenience of car camping with a short trek to the site.
Our favorite site? Steps away from the Hawksbill Mountain trailhead lies one of our favorite campsites in North Carolina, tucked off the gravel road in a young forest. Across the road from the Hawksbill trailhead, a small trail travels eastbound less than .1 mile to an angular rock outcrop.
Just north of Hawksbill’s campsite, trails lead to a small cliff that offers wide views into the Linville Gorge Wilderness – a great spot to catch a sunrise or unwind after an adventure-filled day on the trail. From the campsite, it’s a less-than-.1-mile trek, due north, to the outcrop overlook.
Didn’t get there early enough, and the Hawksbill campsites are already taken? There’s another site just south on FS 210, located east of the Spence Ridge trailhead. From the Spence Ridge parking area, it’s a quick 200-foot walk into the forest to the site (GPS coordinates: 35.904183, -81.878217 / N35 54.251 W81 52.693). Or for less privacy from the road, but some next-to-the-car convenience, there’s also a small campsite south of Spence Ridge, near Table Rock (GPS coordinates: 35.889767,-81.869217 / N35 53.386 W81 52.153).
Note: permits are required for camping in the gorge from May through October.
Get more info here.
What to pack?
Wondering what to pack for your adventure? Our camping gear list features our favorite tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, cookware, lighting, and essentials to make for an amazing adventure under the stars.
Linville Gorge hiking adventures
Chase waterfalls, hike to some incredible summit views, catch gorgeous sunsets and peer deep into the gorge from dizzying heights on our favorite Linville Gorge hiking trails. Climb to stunning views from Shortoff Mountain. Cross the gorge to explore the tumbling, towering waterfalls on the Linville Falls Plunge Basin Trail. Or explore nearby adventure from the summits of Table Rock Mountain and Hawksbill Mountain, catching unforgettable mountaintop views.
Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.
Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.
Love the trail?
This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!
Did you have trouble accessing the trail, or notice some recent trail updates or storm damage? We'd love to know! Contact us here, and thanks for helping us keep this site updated!
Note: Trailhead access is via a gravel Forest Service Road. Continue following FS 210 south from the Hawksbill Trailhead to access the alternate campsites.
35.914683,-81.878317 // N35 54.881 W81 52.699