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How to Find Wiseman’s View of the Linville Gorge Wilderness

Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on March 18, 2024.

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Wiseman’s View of the Linville Gorge Wilderness is a popular scenic overlook and one place in North Carolina that I always tell people to see. Of course, I also warn them about the drive to get up there.

If you’ve been up to this excellent spot in Western North Carolina, you’ll know why it’s worth the four-ish mile trip on a Forest Service Rd (Kistler Memorial Highway) that can sometimes have a few holes and rough patches.

When you drive up to the Wiseman’s View parking area for the first time, you’ll need some extra patience. The epic scenery that you’ll find at the end of this crazy drive and super-easy walk is worth every grimace and swear word you shout as you make your way.

Wisemans View near Morganton

An added bonus is all the fun that you can find around this place. And there’s plenty of it, whether you hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway or opt for a quicker, less picturesque route.

Either way, anyone who wants epic scenery and bucket list-worthy looks at the Grand Canyon of the East should start with Wiseman’s View. But before you set off, though, this guide will share how to reach it. We also offer background info and the aforementioned additional fun in nearby places.

Wiseman’s View might be a short walk, but it’s still worthy of mention in our Bucket List book. It also features in our guides to hiking in North Carolina and hikes near Boone.

Read More: Things to Do in Morganton and Burke County

Wiseman’s View of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area

Note: Many of the background info on Wiseman’s View and Linville Gorge came courtesy of William Powell’s epic Encyclopedia of North Carolina. Thank you to local libraries for keeping this on your shelves and for not yelling at me when seeing me reshelve this one-of-a-kind!

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do in North Carolina

Where is Wiseman’s View?

Wisemans View Overlook View Image

Wiseman’s View is located in the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, which is managed by Pisgah National Forest.

Before European settlers arrived, this area (and much of Western North Carolina) was inhabited by Cherokee Indians. It’s well-known that the Linville River is known as “Ee-see-oh” in the Cherokee language, meaning “river of many cliffs.”

The name “Linville” comes from a hunter named William Linville, who was killed (along with his son) near today’s Linville Falls by a Shawnee war party who were prepping for a battle with the Cherokee.

Read More: Museum of the Cherokee People (13,000 Years of History in One Important Space)

Becoming Linville Gorge

The government didn’t formally protect the Linville Gorge until the 1950s. Thankfully, its extremely rugged terrain prevented any successful industrial logging attempts beforehand.

That’s why the area is still home to old-growth forests that have largely remained untouched. As a result, prominent botanists such as Andre Michaux in the 18th century and Thomas Nuttall in the 19th century both loved coming here to collect specimens.

Read More: 4 National Forests in NC (Things to Do + Why We Love Them!)

Wisemans View North Carolina

After World War II, John D Rockefeller donated funds to purchase the Gorge’s upper section. From then, it was preserved as Linville Falls Recreation Area.

Today, the US Forest Service manages Linville Gorge as part of Pisgah National Forest. The latter covers more than 510,000 acres in North Carolina and one of the state’s four national forests (along with Nantahala, Uwharrie, and Croatan).

Read More: 30+ Great Things to Do in Boone (Hikes, Eats, and More in App Town)

Who Was Wiseman?

Finding info on the Wiseman behind Wiseman’s View was pretty tough. I scoured various sources and narrowed it down to a settler who immigrated to the area from England in the 18th century.

Read More: 25+ Amazing Restaurants in Morganton and Nearby! (Map Included!)

Driving Directions to Wiseman’s View

Linville Falls General Store Image

The most complex thing about Wiseman’s View is the actual drive up to it.

When on US-221 in Linville, turn onto NC-183. That will take you onto Kistler Memorial Highway (also known as 1238 and old NC 105). One mile down that road, you’ll see a Linville Gorge sign on the right. This is part of the Pisgah Loop and where the fun begins.

For the next four miles, you’ll rethink your decision to come to this place. The gravel road gets surfaced by the Forest Service multiple times a year, but plenty of potholes and ruts can develop.

Dirty Car from Wisemans View

Just exercise caution and don’t be afraid to drive slow. SUVs, trucks, and other higher clearance cars are best for this drive, though I’ve done it twice with Toyota sedans.

Note: If there’s bad weather and you have a low-riding car, it might be best not to attempt the drive.

Regardless of all these warnings, the fact that Wiseman’s View is at the end makes the journey absolutely worth the trouble. During the drive, you’ll immediately see the Linville Falls parking area and a variety of camping spots.

You’ll eventually see the Wiseman’s View parking area, which is small but hasn’t been full any of the times we’ve gone up.

Read More: 25+ Beautiful Waterfalls near Boone (within 2 Hours)

The Wiseman’s View Hike

Wisemans View NC Beginning of Trail Image
There are plenty of benches and warning signs along the short walk.

Once you’ve arrived at the gravelly parking lot, it’s pretty much easy peasy.

Trail to Wisemans View

From the parking lot, you have a very short 2/10 of a mile walk to the platform. Even though the ride up to the parking lot is very rough, there’s an accessible path option and one with steps.

Note: There’s a single-person bathroom in the parking lot but no water available.

The Epic Wiseman’s View

Linville Gorge Wilderness from Wisemans View

And just like that, you’ll arrive at the upper viewing area, which is wheelchair-accessible. More platforms require steps, but either way, this is a view worth driving for.

Stairs at Wisemans View

From the east-facing platform, you’ll get the best view of Hawksbill Mountain and Table Rock Mountain. Of course, you’ll also see Linville River below.

There’s a south-facing platform, too, which offers gorgeous views of the Gorge and mountains in the distance.

Read More: 25 of the Most Amazing Winter Hikes in North Carolina

Nighttime Views: Brown Mountain Lights

We’ve not done this yet, but the Brown Mountain Lights is one popular thing to come and see. This interesting phenomenon is a long-known series of “ghost lights” that appear near Brown Mountain.

Wiseman’s View is one of a few places that are good for seeing them. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to spot them, we’d love to know about it!

Read More: 15+ Enchanting Ghost Tours in NC for You to Join!

Things to Do Near Wiseman’s View

If you zoom out on our North Carolina Travel Map before heading out this way, you’ll see that more than a few fun places surround Wiseman’s View.

Read More: Day Trips from Asheville

Linville Falls

Linville Falls NC Image

We’ve already mentioned a couple of mountains but could never leave out the impressive Linville Falls. It’s one of the best waterfalls in North Carolina and among our favorites to enjoy near Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk.

You’ll pass one of its entrances on the way up. Another way to access its main Visitors Center is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway (MM 316).

Read More: Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes

Famous Louise’s

The Linville Falls community also includes a great general store and Famous Louise’s Rockhouse Restaurant. The latter is situated on three county lines. But don’t worry, the food is still delicious, whether you want to sit in Avery, Burke, or McDowell.

Read More: Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Banner Elk (7 Important Tips Before You Go!)

Linville Falls Winery

Linville Falls Winery Newland NC Image

And just up US-221 is Linville Falls Winery. It’s in a lovely spot, family-owned, and where you’ll find delicious High Country wine. Stop by for a tasting and take home at least a bottle (Elevation is our favorite).

We’re always looking forward to our next visit! If you didn’t already know, we are considering Linville Falls among the best North Carolina wineries and vineyards.

Read More: 25 Wonderful Wineries Near Asheville (Vineyards Within 2 Hours)

Linville Caverns

Winter in Boone NC Linville Caverns

About five minutes down 221 from the General Store is Famous Louise’s is Linville Caverns. They were first discovered in 1822 and have been open for tours since 1930.

You can learn about the Caverns’ history, their fall and winter residents (bats), and more about the subterranean world that lurks inside the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)

The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway always deserves attention, and here are a few places to go within an hour of Wiseman’s View.


You can hop on it near Linville and, within an hour, reach some of our favorite spots in Western North Carolina. Boone and Blowing Rock are within an hour of Linville north on the Parkway, even if NC-105 is a faster route.

Stick to the Parkway, though, and you’ll cross Grandfather Mountain and the famed Linn Cove Viaduct. The parking lot for Rough Ridge Trail is one of a few spots worth stopping for between Linn Cove and Blowing Rock.

Read More: Day Trips from Boone


Switzerland Inn Little Switzerland NC Image
That view from the Switzerland Inn…

Head south, and after a lengthy series of curves, the marvelous Switzerland Inn and accompanying mountain town of Little Switzerland will pop up.

The restaurant side of the Little Switzerland Cafe and General Store makes some of North Carolina’s finest barbecue. Spend time in the attached Little Switzerland Books & Beans

Hop off the Parkway for a bit and head up 226 to Spruce Pine. It’s an interesting town that’s home to more than a few festivals throughout the year. A couple of them include SPACE in June and the NC Mineral & Gem Festival in August.

There are also overlooks that’ll pique your interest while driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so feel free to stop at any one of them to stretch your legs and enjoy amazing views!

Read More: NC Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes (30 of the Best!)

Ready to See Wiseman’s View?

Wiseman's View

While the walk to Wiseman’s View might seem short and sweet, we just couldn’t leave out the crazy drive that leads up to it and all the background behind it and Linville Gorge Wilderness.

Since we highly value our trips to Western North Carolina, we always come up with a game plan to accomplish a lot. That’s why we also wanted to include some of our favorite places near Wiseman’s View.

And as we keep returning to this beautiful part of North Carolina, we’re interested in hearing from you as you explore it, too!

If you’ve ever visited this part of the state or even have the fortune of living here, we’d love to know what you think of this area. Also, we’d love to know about your favorite spots to enjoy here.

More Things to Do Near Wiseman’s View

18 thoughts on “How to Find Wiseman’s View of the Linville Gorge Wilderness”

  1. The road isn’t as bad as you make it seem! I’ve been many times in a regular car. The drive from the Lake James end, Highway 126 is s as mother story.
    PS. I’ve seen the Brown Mt Lights several times but never from Wiseman’s View!

  2. I stumbled onto you through one of my Likes. It is a warm feeling to read and see other people enjoying North Carolina. I tell people that you have to look hard to find an eyesore in this state. There is so much beauty and peace in the High Country especially.
    I need to travel to see the Gorge again. It has been years since I traveled that road. I guess no one has attended to it for any improvements. We picked up any trash that was left along the way on that trip. Some peeps don’t know how to leave it wild. I keep a bag in my vehicle to keep whatever landscape I am at clean and beautiful for the wildlife and the next visitors. Would like to go again this spring. Take care and keep traveling.

    • If you are a Daniels, the you are probably cousins with the Cuthbersons, Wise and a host of Avery county family. My mom was Sis Calvert from Newland.


  3. I’ve been to Wiseman‘s View and seen the Brown Mountain Lights on several occasions. It’s been about 20 years since my last visit to Linville Gorge, but when I was a girl my parents would bring me up to Linville Gorge Wilderness Area to camp at one of the rustic campsites along the road up to Wiseman‘s View. We came every year for most of my childhood. My father always said that it had to be a clear night to see the lights unimpaired by the fog that tends to cover the valley below. I always witnessed them both on Hawksbill Mountain and Table Rock from about halfway up the mountains, to the ridge line of each. I always saw them from the middle and far south facing overlooks of Wiseman’s View, but never from the north facing cliff.

  4. We have an RV at the foot of Old NC 105. Now that is the rough end. Nice views on way up. My ABS messed up on the trip. Maybe because of the shaking. That was a $600 trip. Beautiful views but take it easy.

  5. William Wiseman was one of the 3 William ‘s that stowaway on an English merchant vessel. My grandfather was William Davis (9th generation’s back) he is buried up on 3-mile Rd. outside Linville on 194 just before you reach the Linville winery.

    Read Cabins in the Laurel, Muriel Earley Sheppard to discover my rootstock. I believe either Page 19 or 29 is the story about the 15 yearold stowaways.

    Wiseman is accredited with being the originator of the western North Carolina furniture industry.

  6. I have lived in Blowing Rock for over 20 years for five months every summer. Yes, there is beauty everywhere. Just driving to the grocery store is a view most people drive hours and days to see. However, it seems that suddenly the whole world wants to be here in the summer. This last summer was the busiest I’ve ever seen. It cannot go on like this without some deterioration of the environment. I guess many places can say that in this very crowded world.

  7. The Brown Mountain Overlook on NC 181 north of Morganton is a good place to look for the Brown Mountain lights. I have lived in the area my entire life and have never seen them. Most people I know who have seen them parked overnight and patiently waited. They say clear nights in the late summer and early fall are the best, but the lights have no switch and show up at random times. 😉

  8. I have just stumbled across your blog and enjoyed reading about Wiseman’s View. Our daughter and son-in-law actually got married up there in 2009. Along with the challenging drive up the gravel road, we took folding chairs, a speaker and microphone, and a golf cart to carry elderly grandparents to the site of the ceremony. But, oh my goodness what a backdrop – what a view – for this beautiful celebration! And the pictures with the bride and groom and wedding party were fabulous! (Hiking bystanders watching the ceremony said it was the most beautiful wedding they had ever seen.)

    Have you been to Elk River Falls in Elk Park? (You might have covered this site already.) If not, you really should see it. It’s an easy drive to get to the head of the falls, and a fairly easy to moderate walk to see them from below. (I grew up near the Falls.)

  9. I just went to Wiseman’s view in early March. I have a Honda CRV and really needed it. The road had not been graded since fall. I love this area and am so lucky I only live 2 hours away in Greensboro (an also beautiful place.)
    When stressed I can mentally envision Hawksbill and Table Mountains as I saw them at Wiseman’s view. I stayed in Blowing Rock and visited the gorge and drove the Parkway. It was a great get away.
    When I was in the Colorado mountains I was talking to someone when I was in Ouray. I was so surprised when he said that the NC mountains are so beautiful. I realized that I take my NC mountains for granted.

    • Thanks for sharing, Brenda. Wiseman’s View is truly my happy place and I imagine that view that you mention all the time. I agree about needing something like a CRV (we have one, too!) because that road only gets graded a few times a year, usually during the busier seasons. I hope you’re able to get to our mountains as often as possible. Take care and have a great day!

  10. That gravel road to Wiseman’s view is awful. And i made my last trip up there a week ago. I am never going back again. I don’t want to risk damaging something on my SUV. When i was up there about 7 years ago, it was not as bad then as it is now. The road is just getting worse. They don’t maintain that road as good as other gravel roads i been on in the mountains.

  11. I made the mistake of driving my Prius from Lake James to Wiseman’s View on county road 1238, the old NC 108. It’s 12 miles of 4-wheel-drive road with wash-outs and rocks as big as footballs. Some hills were so steep I had to zigzag to scramble up the grade with my 2-wheel drive. Even in a high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle, it would be a tiring and unpleasant ride.
    I might have ruined the underside of my car, but the scenery is good and the sense of accomplishment was great! Bottom line: I don’t recommend this approach to Wiseman’s View.


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