Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on October 11, 2023.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
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.
Driving Directions to Wiseman’s View
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.
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.
The Wiseman’s View Hike
Once you’ve arrived at the gravelly parking lot, it’s pretty much easy peasy.
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
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.
There’s a south-facing platform, too, which offers gorgeous views of the Gorge and mountains in the distance.
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!
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.
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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
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.
Linville Falls Winery
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.
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.
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
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!
Ready to See 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.