Trails around the Linville Falls Visitor Center provide both challenging and moderate walks to the stunning three-tiered Linville Falls across the Linville Gorge. The Gorge's high walls have earned it the moniker "Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians." Every year, 350,000 people visit the Linville Falls Visitor Center (MP 316.4). Linville Falls is the most well-known waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Linville Falls may be seen from two main hiking paths. Both start at the Linville Falls Visitor Center and take you through remnants of a virgin hemlock forest mixed along with other recognizable tree species including white pine, oak, hickory, and birch. In the spring, the pathways are adorned with a brilliant and diverse display of wildflowers. In the fall, red and gold leaves contrast brilliantly with the relaxing green of hemlocks. The paths near Linville Falls range in intensity from moderate to demanding. Erwins View Path A modest 1.6 mile round-trip journey that provides hikers with four views, each of which reveals a distinct element of the Linville Falls region. The first overlook is 0.5 mile from the visitor center and requires a moderate hike with a modest elevation fall. The Linville River gradually cascades over the higher falls, where it expands and pauses. The water flows down a tight canyon before spiraling out of sight and plunging 45 feet over the lower falls. Chimney View, 0.7 mile from the visitor center, is the first point on the route where you can see the lower falls. It's a great opportunity to picture both the top and lower falls. The name of the viewpoint comes from the chimney-like rock outcroppings to the right of the waterfall. In this part, the trail is tough, with significant elevation increase. Hikers may glimpse the Linville River carving its way through the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area from Gorge View Overlook. The Erwins View Trail concludes at Erwins View Overlook, which is about 0.8 mile from the visitor center. Hikers may enjoy a panoramic view of the Linville Gorge as well as a distant glimpse of the upper and lower falls from this vantage point. Linville Gorge Hiking Trail The visitor center also serves as the starting point for the trails to Linville Gorge (1.4 miles round trip) and Plunge Basin (1 mile round trip). The Linville Gorge path divides 0.2 mile from the tourist center. The right branch leads to Plunge Basin Overlook, from where hikers may see the lower falls and the Chimneys. The left fork leads down through granite cliffs to the bottom of the falls, where the power of the falling water creates a vast pool. Both of these trails are difficult. Swimming in the Linville River and climbing the boulders are both dangerous and prohibited.