Linville Falls (Hiking One of North Carolina’s Most Popular Waterfalls!)

Last Updated on May 4, 2021

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Linville Falls is part of North Carolina’s Linville Gorge Wilderness, which is known as “the Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians.”

When you visit these exquisite and picturesque falls, you’ll see why it’s the most photographed of all the waterfalls in North Carolina.

No matter where you stand on whether other waterfalls should be seen first, we think Linville Falls should rank somewhere near the top of your list. It’s definitely high on ours for waterfalls near Boone and Blowing Rock.

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:

  • Backstory (Facts and Safety Note)
  • When to Visit (Daily and Seasonally)
  • Driving Directions and Parking Info
  • Linville Falls Hiking Trails
  • More Linville Gorge Fun (Hikes and Places to Visit)
  • Where to Stay Nearby (Campgrounds and Small Towns)
  • More Things to Do Nearby (Related Posts)

This guide is part of our series on Blue Ridge Parkway stops and the best things to do in North Carolina, especially in Western North Carolina. Thanks to its location, Linville Falls is a great day trip option from Asheville and also, from Boone.

Linville Falls Backstory (Facts and Safety Note)

Linville Falls NC

Linville Falls are 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.

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.

When to Visit

Fall in North Carolina

Linville Falls is open from Dawn to Dusk throughout the year and managed by the National Parks Service. The Linville Falls Visitor Center inside the main entrance is staffed from spring through fall and we’ll share more about it in the next section.

The river and the falls are a wonderful sight throughout the year. However, I’d absolutely 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.

Linville Falls is also one of our favorite places for hiking in North Carolina. Check out more spots we love here!

Driving Directions and Parking Info

Linville NC Image

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.

Linville Falls Hiking Trails

Falls in NC Linville Image

There are a few trails at the park, with the easiest one being 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 Erwin’s View and Chimney View.

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.

Ready to Visit Linville Falls?

Linville Gorge North Carolina

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 read your thoughts in the comments section below!

More Linville Gorge Things to Do and Hikes

Wisemans View Linville Gorge North Carolina

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

Campgrounds

Bear Den Mountain Resort and Campground

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.

Small Towns

Linville Falls is within an hour’s drive of North Carolina’s most popular attractions, including Mount Mitchell State Park and Lake James State Park to the south. Grandfather Mountain sits just about 20 minutes to the north, too.

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.

Here are a few more small towns that are within an even shorter drive for you to start your Linville Falls hike.

Linville Falls

7 miles from Linville Falls (12-minute drive)

Linville Falls Winery NC
Linville Falls Winery.

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 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!

Spruce Pine

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.

We’ve enjoyed Spruce Pine throughout the year, but you should definitely keep tabs on these two events—the NC Mineral and Gem Festival in August and SPACE (Spruce Pine Alien Conference & Expo) in June.

Banner Elk

19 miles from Linville Falls (30-minute drive)

Bayou Smokehouse.

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.

Grandfather Vineyard is an amazing winery that sits along a creek and just down the road is Otter Falls and Hawksnest Snow Tubing in Seven Devils.

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 on the privately-owned side.

Of course, many people come to the area for skiing Sugar Mountain or Beech Mountain on either side of Banner Elk. Those are two of our best ski resorts.

Finally, the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is a newer attraction nearby, sure to provide you with a year-round thrill!

More Things to Do Nearby

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