If this photo doesn’t persuade you to visit Linville Gorge right now, then this is not the article for you. There are so many breathtaking moments when you hike in the Linville Falls area.
Located in the Pisgah National Forest Linville Falls is a small community that sees a huge surge of visitors from late spring to early fall when the weather is best. With gorgeous views and a wide variety of hiking, camping, and backpacking options it’s easy to see why so many come here, even from out-of-state.
So why should you visit Linville Falls? Like I said, there is something there for everyone. Whether you are going as a couple, with a group of friends, as a family with small kids, or a group of experienced backpackers.
They have short, easy hikes and then more difficult ones that take you down to the bottom of the Gorge. There are options to swim, fish, and different camping options. The scenery also varies between the gorge, river, and multiple waterfalls.
I’ll share my itinerary from our Memorial Day Weekend that we spent in this area and the tips I gathered from that trip.
Tips for Visiting Linville Falls, NC
- Biggest tip I have: There is NO cell phone service around the Linville Falls Community. Make sure to do your research ahead of time.
- Related to the first tip, I would either purchase a paper map or download an app like Avenza Maps where you can download different maps to your phone.
- There are not many hotels in the area, but there are many Bed & Breakfasts and Airbnb options. You can also camp in the park if you’d like and if you decide to do that, then check out this helpful guide on how to plan a camping trip.
- There are very few restaurants! My recommendation is to plan on some picnics. They can be more fun than a restaurant anyways.
- You can use two different parking lots, one is at the end of Spur Road and is the lot at the National Park Service Visitor’s Center and the other is off of Wiseman’s View Road and is the US Forest Service Lot. The first lot is paved and the other is gravel. You can see them both on the map above.
- If you plan on going further down Wiseman’s View Road to get to additional trails and Wiseman’s View, then be warned the road is incredibly washed out. We saw small sedans that made it, but I would highly recommend an SUV or truck if you have one.
- Be sure to take a jacket or sweatshirt especially if you are cold natured. Even in the summer it gets a little chilly at night.
- My last tip is to explore the area surrounding Linville Falls! My husband and I took a drive one night to see what else was in the area and stumbled on a few off the beaten path hiking trails that looked awesome. It was already dusk though, so we didn’t have time to check them out.
If you need help with planning what to do on your trip then read my itinerary below for the trip that my husband and I took with my parents!
A Weekend in Linville Falls, NC
We started Memorial Day Weekend of 2019 leaving work a little early on Friday headed to the Linville Falls Lodge & Cottages. I did a lot of research on where to stay and these rooms were reasonably priced and less than a mile from the trail heads.
The lodge looks like one of those old-timey motels, but the grounds are so well-kept that it reminds me of one of those little cottages made of rock that you see in a movie set in England. Spring flowers were in full bloom so it was an adorable place to stay and the staff was so friendly.
Once we got checked in, we headed to Mountain View which is a restaurant down in Little Switzerland, about 20 minutes away from the Lodge. The outside doesn’t look like much, but once you go inside and see the view off the deck you realize why it’s so crowded.
It has a gorgeous view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, especially at sunset. There was a small wait for seating on the deck, so we decided to eat inside. If you go here though, I would suggest waiting for a seat outside! I wish that’s what we had done.
Once we finished up with supper, we stood out on the deck for a minute enjoying the view. Then we headed to Wiseman’s View to try and see the Brown Mountain Lights.
If you want to learn more about these lights check out this article. They are lights you can see dancing across Brown Mountain and one of the best places to see them are from Wiseman’s View.
Supposedly they are most active in October and November though. But my mom and I think we did see some of them.
Saturday morning we got a pretty early start and left the lodge at about 7:30am to have breakfast down at Famous Louise’s Rock House. Out of two restaurants and a general store right there at the intersection, it was the only thing open!
We were pleasantly surprised because the service was quick and the food was great. I had a tenderloin and egg sandwich plus tried my dad’s french toast and it was all great.
After we finished up breakfast we went out to the US Forest Service parking lot and thank goodness we got there early. In the morning around 9am there are much less cars than at 11am.
We started out doing the Upper Falls trail which is one of the easiest and very kid friendly. I highly recommend this one for young families or those coming with anyone who doesn’t want anything strenuous. If you get there early enough you can have the whole place to yourselves like we did.
Next we went down to the National Park Visitor’s Center to find the bathrooms and stumbled across a map of the area. We decided to do the Plunge Basin and Plunge Basin Overlook trails.
They are more difficult than the Upper Falls trails, but if you’re in decent shape then they’re no problem. Plus they give you a unique view of the falls. I had never done this trail and I thought it was awesome.
After these two trails, we decided to take the Dugger’s Creek Nature Trail, but I’d suggest skipping this one if you’re doing a lot of other hiking in the area. It is a very good trail for kids or folks that tire easily though.
Our last trail in that area was the one that leads up to Chimney View, Erwin’s View, and the Gorge View. Chimney and Erwin’s View give you a birds eye view of the falls. By that time it was very crowded though, so we didn’t spend too much time there.
Next we drove up the road a little ways back out to Wiseman’s View to see it in the daytime. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
My parents had to leave that afternoon to go back home, so my husband and I went to Linville Falls Winery. If you are a fan of wine, then I highly recommend this.
You can taste either reds, whites and they have a few sweet, fruity wines. I can promise you you should find something you like. They also had a band playing bluegrass music and they have wine slushies!
We did some exploring after this and found some hidden waterfalls and other hiking trails that we are saving for our next visit. My husband was scouting out fishing holes.
But we were pretty tired and going hiking the next day so we took our bottle of wine back to the room and sat outside and enjoyed the rest of the night.
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Our whole last day was spent on one trail: Babel Tower. We packed a picnic, found the trail head, and went on our way. The trail head is past the US Forest Service parking lot but before you get to Wiseman’s View.
It has camping spots right at the top which would be really neat to stay in! It starts off on an easy slope but the trail is much narrower than anything we did the day before.
About one-third of the way down the trail, it started getting steeper. There were some rocky areas and we saw four snakes on the trail. I was in chacos and I love them, but if you have hiking boots I definitely recommend those instead. There are some gorgeous views of the gorge, and towards the end you really do see Babel Tower!
The end of Babel Tower intersects with the Linville River Trail that winds along with the river. We walked a little ways down the trail and found a fishing hole. We didn’t catch much so we found a good place for a picnic and nap in our Eno Hammocks.
The rest was much needed because the hike out was tough. This trail is definitely not for those that tire easily. I’m in decent shape (though I do hate cardio) and I had to stop every five minutes during the steepest parts of the trail.
Just a warning that you should be in good shape if you want to tackle this one! The work was totally worth it though for views like these. Babel Tower is definitely one of my favorite hiking trails in the Southeast.
This is how we spent our weekend in Linville Falls, NC!
We had an awesome time and I highly recommend a visit to this area if you love the outdoors. There are so many different options for the whole family and it’s such a bonding experience when you spend time outside uninterrupted.
If you want more weekend ideas for the North Carolina mountains, then check out NC Weekend Trip: Nantahala River, Fontana, & Cherokee.