Linville Falls NC, located near Milepost 316 on The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular stopping points along the parkway, and also one of the most photographed waterfalls in the area.
The Linville Falls NC area of the Blue Ridge Parkway offers three different hiking trails and multiple views, and and a chance to see the the multiple waterfalls of Linville Falls. Linville Falls, the main attraction, plunges 90 feet into the 12 mile long Linville Gorge along the Linville River.
Upon arriving, park in the visitor’s center parking lot. This will be on past the campground and picnic areas which you will see on your right. From the parking lot, head to the visitors center where you can pick up a trail map, and restroom facilities are available. The two trails start here.
Erwin’s View Trail is a moderate 1.6 mile roundtrip hiking trail that leads you to multiple viewpoints, and provides a wonderful tour of the Linville Falls area. This is the most popular trail, and the one that most people use to see the various views of Linville Falls.
The first stopping point will be Upper Falls. This section of the trail is easy, with just a slight decline in elevation. The trail will take you alongside Linville River and across a bridge, where it will turn to dirt. Watch for a spur trail to the left that will take you down to a viewing area for Upper Falls.
Here you’ll see two twin falls that begin the falls. Waterflows down two medium size cascades and into a pool, before plunging down into a small gorge, and then exiting out and plunging into the river basin at the main Linville Falls.
Swimming is not allowed here, and frankly would be very dangerous. There are small retaining walls to keep people within safe areas, do not climb or go over these, it could be fatal.
After visiting Upper Falls, head back up to the main trail and continue. The trail will take you through a forested area for 0.2 miles, which provides the first view of Linville Falls itself, and it’s 90 foot plunge into a large basin at the bottom.
There’s a view here of the Upper Falls, the Linville River and of Linville Gorge below the falls.
From the Chimney view, head back out onto the main trail and continue onto Erwin’s View just a little further up. Erwin’s view provides a very wide and scenic view of Linville Falls. You can see both upper and lower falls from here.
The second and more difficult trail leads down the base of the falls, and offers some unique and outstanding views. Due to the steps, and elevation changes, this trail is strenuous. The trailhead is at the Visitors Center, and leads up near the bathrooms.
The trail slowly leads up, and at .25 miles will split. There are signs here that will help you determine which way to go. Going to the right takes you to Plunge Basin Overlook. Going left takes you down to the base on Linville Falls.
The first viewpoint along this trail is a moderate hike for .5 miles to Plunge Basin Overlook. This overlook provides a sideview of the gorge and of Linville Falls NC itself. This view is high up, and safe as long as you stay behind the retaining walls. It’s one of the nicer views of the falls.
The base of Linville Falls is reached by taking the trail to the left. This trail is 3/4’s of a mile long, and includes lots of steps and a few steep inclines to climb. This part of the trail is strenuous, but the reward is worth it.
Once at the bottom you’ll be up close and personal with the Falls, the cliffsides, and many rocks below the falls. It’s a great place to relax, and enjoy the scenery and the fantastic sounds of Linville Falls.
You’ll head back up the same way you came down.
Another trail that starts from the visitors center is the short 3/10 of a mile hike out to Dugger’s Creek Falls.
Dugger’s Creek Falls is a small 10 foot waterfall, nestled in a cove, and is small, but makes up for it’s lake of size with beauty.
The trail takes you down to a bridge that provides very clear views of the waterfall. This little waterfall is well worth the short walk, and is very photogenic.
Here is a really fantastic aerial video on Linville Falls NC, done by Steve Huff: