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Hike to the summit of Shortoff Mountain, scoring gorgeous views of nearby Lake James and carving across the view-packed southern rim of Linville Gorge.

georgia hiking trails: 6 or more miles 7.4 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderate to difficultmore
difficult
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails near Asheville for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:at Linville Gorge, east of Asheville

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Asheville Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 779 Trails Illustrated Map

RATED: 4.7/5 (3 reviews)

Shortoff Mountain presents breathtaking view after breathtaking view throughout this seven-miler at Linville Gorge, one of western NC’s most ruggedly beautiful outdoor playgrounds. The trail packs in a moderately steep climb from the start, but then mellows in the middle, making the hike doubly camera-worthy and workout-worthy, too.

The views are sublime, stretching south to the placid waters of Lake James, and north into the deep-carved, rugged, waterfall-filled Linville Gorge. The trail’s terrain is rocky, angular and dramatic, framing the exceptional wide panoramic views that pepper this hike’s journey, including the nearby summits of Table Rock Mountain and Hawksbill Mountain, and the Linville Falls waterfalls in the far distance, nestled deep within the gorge.

Shortoff Mountain

Mile for mile, this hike packs in a ton of scenic beauty on its seven-mile round trip – and the initial climb is a great, unrelenting workout, too. The mountain was home to several semi-recent forest fires, leaving the terrain open and the views all the more beautiful. The forest has begun its dramatically beautiful rebound, framing the dramatically barren shells of singed trees with lush undergrowth and abundant wildflowers.

The mountain’s relatively moderate 3,000-foot elevation makes for a toasty warm hike in the summer, a fantastic mild trek in the shoulder seasons of autumn and spring, and a downright chilly, wind-blown adventure in the frosty winter months.

Hike to the summit of Shortoff Mountain, scoring gorgeous views of nearby Lake James and carving across the view-packed southern rim of Linville Gorge. #hiking #trailrunning #camping #backpacking #asheville #nc #northcarolina #travel #outdoors #adventure

Shortoff Mountain Trail: the hike

The hike begins at the dead-end of the gravel-paved Wolf Pit Road near the northern shore Lake James (view maps and driving directions), hiking westbound and beginning a nearly unrelenting climb to the mountain’s summit. The hike climbs through rocky terrain and hangs a right at a hand-painted sign at .15 mile. Gorgeous views of Lake James begin to emerge at .5 mile as the trail carves through a series of sharply angled switchbacks before reaching a signed 4-way intersection with the Mountains to Sea Trail at 1 mile.

The hike continues westbound through the intersection, following the sign’s direction to the summit. The southward views of Lake James get appreciably better and more dramatically wide open as the hike ascends, climbing a set of stone stairs at 1.15 miles.

Shortoff Mountain

The trail crests the mountain’s near-summit at 1.3 miles, catching some stunning views of Lake James and into the southern stretches of Linville Gorge. The terrain is rocky, jagged and rugged – and multiple overlooks make a great venue to take a view-packed breather.

The trail levels briefly before resuming the climb, veering northbound and diving into a young, scraggly, scrubby forest. The trail crosses a seasonal, trickling spring at 1.5 miles, just before reaching a large campsite with splintered side trails to stunning views. The trail passes a second, generously-sized campsite at 1.6 miles before arcing eastbound, diving through a grassy forest filled with gnarly-branched rhododendron and scattered campsites.

Shortoff Mountain

The trail levels, rolling gently as it skirts the summit of Shortoff Mountain and catches stunning, soaring views into Linville Gorge from a rocky expanse littered with angular outcrops and wind-swept grass.

The hike descends briefly, catching more northbound views of the nearby Table Rock Mountain and the Chimneys, two of Linville Gorge’s most popular climbing venues. The trail dips through a shallow saddle at 2.9 miles before resuming the climb, ascending through a dense forest of rhododendron and pungent-scented, onion-like galax to the mountain’s highest elevations.

The trail peaks at 3.75 miles, the views opening generously wide from a rugged, nearly-vertical outcrop. From here, the trail continues northbound, descending through Chimney Gap, passing an intersection with the Chimbric Ridge Trail and climbing to the Chimneys. This hike turns from the Shortoff Mountain summit, retracing its outbound steps to the Wolf Pit Road trailhead and catching stunning return-hike views throughout the way. The trail reaches the trailhead at just under 7.5 miles, completing the hike.

More Linville Gorge hiking adventures

If you loved the views on this hike, there’s a whole lot more of Linville Gorge’s beauty left to explore. Hike the Table Rock Trail to the summit of the flat-topped, craggy summit of Shortoff’s nearest neighbor, catching gorgeous views in wide, sweeping panoramas. Climb to stunning views from the Hawksbill Mountain Trail, the perfect place to catch an epic sunrise or sunset near Asheville. Chase an up-close view of Linville Gorge’s stunning waterfalls on the Linville Falls Plunge Basin Trail, descending to the gorge’s floor to reach an enormous pool below Linville’s largest waterfall. Or check out the full list of our favorite Linville Gorge hiking, camping and backpacking adventures for more trip inspiration in this rugged outdoor wonderland.


Shortoff Mountain Trail Map, Directions & Details

Trails and routes may change – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.

Trail Rating

RATED: 4.7/5 (3 reviews)

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!

Updates

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!

Driving Directions



Parking

Free. Trailhead access is via gravel Forest Service roads. Love the trail? Please consider a donation to Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards to help support their outstanding work in the Linville Gorge Wilderness.


GPS Coordinates

35.824200, -81.889717     //     N35 49.452 W81 53.383

Elevation Profile

Shortoff Mountain Trail at Linville Gorge: Elevation Profile
 
 
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Eric Champlin
Author

Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.