Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on November 2, 2023.
Linville Falls is an unincorporated community in Western North Carolina and is also the name of one of the most photographed waterfalls in North Carolina. The Linville Falls trail and waterfall, and the accompanying visitor center, are part of North Carolina’s epic Linville Gorge Wilderness Area.
Known as “the Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians,” the Linville Gorge is managed by Pisgah National Forest. You can reach the Linville Falls Visitor Center via the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 316). There is additional parking for the waterfall hike via the Kistler Memorial Highway (also known as 1238 and old NC 105).
No matter where you park, we think you’ll enjoy Linville Falls. We sure have and keep it high on our list of waterfalls near Boone.
Before you go, we think there are a few important things to know. Here’s how we’ve organized this guide for you, so you’ll get the most out of your trip:
- What is Linville Falls (the NC Waterfall)?
- Where is Linville Falls?
- When to Visit (NC Tripping’s Recommendation)
- Parking Info (2 Options)
- Linville Falls Hiking Trails
- Duggers Creek Falls
- Safety Info
- Leave No Trace Reminder
- More Linville Gorge Fun (Hikes and Places to Visit)
- Where to Stay Nearby (Campgrounds and Small Towns)
- More Things to Do Nearby (NC Travel Guides)
Read More: Unique Things to Do in North Carolina
What is Linville Falls (the NC Waterfall)?
Linville Falls is a series of massive waterfalls with huge and very dangerous dropoffs. This NC waterfall is known to have the highest volume on the northern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The waterfall drops about 90 feet into Linville Gorge and can be viewed from multiple spots, including from the top of the surrounding mountains.
Long before people like us came to stare at them, the falls were supposedly used by Native Americans to execute prisoners.
Where is Linville Falls (the NC Waterfall)?
Visitor Center Address: Linville Falls Visitor Center, Warrior Ln, Marion, NC 28752
Linville Falls is in Burke County and is part of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, a subsection of Pisgah National Forest in Western North Carolina. The waterfall is named after the Linville River, which flows through it.
There are quite a few small towns and attractions that are within a short drive of your Linville Falls waterfall hike.
- Linville Falls is within an hour’s drive of Asheville and some more of North Carolina’s most popular attractions, including Mount Mitchell State Park and Lake James State Park to the south.
- You can also reach Linville Falls within an hour from the mountain towns of Boone and Blowing Rock to the north.
- Morganton and Marion are the two largest towns within 45 minutes to the south. Little Switzerland is a nice little town and about 40 minutes away to the south as well.
- Burnsville is another great option, about 35 minutes west of Linville Falls. It’s home to great local businesses, including shops and restaurants.
Read More: Day Trips from Asheville
When to Visit (NC Tripping’s Recommendation)
The Linville Falls Visitor Center is open from Dawn to Dusk from mid-spring through the end of fall and is managed by the National Parks Service. It is staffed from spring through fall and we’ll share more about it in the next section.
You can enjoy the Linville Falls trails and the waterfall throughout the year, though. From freezing temperatures in the winter through the warm summer, we’ve hiked this trail during all four seasons.
However, I’d absolutely personally recommend going in the fall when the leaves are changing colors.
It just raises the park’s atmosphere to a whole new level in my opinion.
The Linville Falls Visitor Center is easily accessed via the Blue Ridge Parkway (MP 316). Here, you’ll find plenty of parking spots, though nice weather days and weekends will see this place fill up pretty quickly.
There are also restrooms, picnic spots, and a small gift shop at the Visitor Center.
In case the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed, you have another option for parking along Old NC 105. This road will eventually lead you to some more hikes and Wiseman’s View, which we’ll mention below in our “More Linville Gorge Fun” section.
Read More: The Best NC Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes
How to See Linville Falls (Hiking Trails)
There are a few trails that lead to Linville Falls and here’s a breakdown of each one:
- Erwin’s View Trail: The easiest Linville Falls hiking trail is Erwin’s View Trail. It’s a fairly simple 1.6 miles round trip. The trail also gives you beautiful overhead panoramas of the falls from various overlooks, including the Upper Falls Overlook and the Chimney View. Erwin’s View is the last overlook and offers a view of the Linville River as it heads into the heart of the Linville Gorge.
- Plunge Basin Trail: The 1.4-mile-long Plunge Basin Trail is listed as “Moderate” and gives you a view from the river’s opposite side.
- The Gorge Trail branches off from the Plunge and ends up at the foot of the falls, though some parts are inaccessible when the water is too high.
Read More: 100+ Hiking Trails in North Carolina
Duggers Creek Falls
Before you even head to Linville Falls, don’t forget about Duggers Creek Falls. This waterfall is a short distance from the parking lot and the Linville Falls Visitors Center.
The small 10-foot waterfall sits in an alcove at the end of a short 3/10-mile hike.
The waters here are very dangerous and every year, the Blue Ridge Parkway and other National Park officials will release a statement warning people to stay out of the water.
Long story short, just stand back and don’t give in to the temptation of jumping into Linville Falls.
Read More: National Parks Sites in North Carolina
Leave No Trace Reminder
While enjoying any Linville Falls waterfall hikes, we ask you to PLEASE leave no trace. Pack in, pack out, and please do not ever litter in any of our beloved public spaces.
If you’d like to lend a helping hand, bring a grocery bag of your own and pick up any trash that you see!
Ready to Visit Linville Falls?
So what do you think? I’m guessing you know that we’re pretty smitten with Linville Falls, but what about you? Do you think this is a place worth visiting?
If you’ve ever been or want to visit Linville Falls, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section or send us an email!
Don’t forget to share your Linville Falls waterfall hike adventures in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group!
More Linville Gorge Things to Do and Hikes
As we mentioned earlier, the falls are a part of Linville Gorge Wilderness. A lot of people also come to the Gorge for rock climbing, hunting, and fishing.
Hikes are a major reason for visitors to frequent this area, though. Please be cautious, as hiking in the wilderness is different from the well-marked trails at most other parks.
You can also see Linville Falls from surrounding peaks like Table Rock Mountain and Hawksbill Mountain, among others nearby. There are some easier-to-access viewpoints nearby, including Wiseman’s View, that you should definitely check out.
Where to Stay Nearby
Whether you’re enjoying a quick Linville Falls waterfall hike or a lengthy adventure into the Linville Gorge, here are some places to stay nearby.
When driving to or from Linville Falls, you’ll likely also pass the Linville Falls Campground, which is the closest place to stay nearby.
We’ve also stayed at Bear Den Mountain Resort & Campground, which is about a 10-minute drive away (MP 324.8) and seriously one of the coolest campgrounds we’ve visited. I don’t receive any compensation from them but will gladly promote them and stay there when in the area.
Linville Falls Community
7 miles from Linville Falls (12-minute drive)
The unincorporated community of Linville Falls sits at the junction of Avery, Burke, and McDowell. We love exploring the fun here, including Linville Falls Winery (one of NC’s best wineries!) and Linville Caverns.
After hiking to Linville Falls, make sure to stop by Famous Louise’s for some down-home grub. The Linville Falls General Store is also worthy of a stop, in case you forgot anything at home!
Read More: Day Trips from Boone
19 miles from Linville Falls (29-minute drive)
Spruce Pine is less than 30 minutes away from Linville Falls and offers plenty of fun to explore. The Emerald Village complex hosts 12 mines for gem and gold panning and is open seven days a week from spring through fall.
19 miles from Linville Falls (30-minute drive)
If you follow the Blue Ridge Parkway for most of the route, you’ll arrive at Banner Elk in 30 minutes. It’s one of our favorite places to visit throughout the year, especially in October around the time of its famous Woolly Worm Festival.
Throughout the year, though, there are some great restaurants in Banner Elk for you to try. Banner Elk Winery & Villa and Grandfather Vineyard are two amazing wineries in town, too.
While in the area, don’t miss out on Apple Hill Farm, an ethical and working alpaca farm! Banner Elk is also a popular gateway to Grandfather Mountain State Park and the Mile High Swinging Bridge inside the Grandfather Mountain attraction.
The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is a newer attraction nearby, sure to provide you with a year-round thrill!
More Things to Do Nearby (NC Travel Guides)
We’ve covered the Linville Falls waterfall hike and nearby attractions in these NC travel guides. Here are a few of them.