Headed over to Linville Falls today since we’d had a considerable amount of rain. Of course it being December, the visitors center wasn’t open. But, you could drive to the parking lot at the visitors center to park. Today was a very wet / muddy walk on all of the trails because of the recent rain.
Today when we arrived at the parking area, we immediately parked at one of the first parking spaces that we found. Our first stop was the Dugger Creek Falls area. To enjoy this part of the Linville Falls area, as you enter the parking area, you will see a trail that seems that it will be paved, but soon becomes a leaf covered trail. This is an easy trail. We enjoyed some cascades below the waterfall. We continued on and came around a bend where we saw a wooden bridge. You can get some pretty nice shots of the small waterfall from the bridge. The waterfall is about 10 feet tall. I read that if you continue on this trail, that it takes you to where the river bridge that you cross as you are driving to the parking area. We just turned around headed to the overlooks for Linville Falls. It was only about 1/10 of a mile from the parking area to the bridge. If you take the path from the visitors center to Dugger Creek Falls, it’s about 3/10 of a mile.
After enjoying Dugger Creek Falls, we backtracked and came back to the parking area. We then took the trail to the left. Our next destination was Plunge Basin Overlook. We walked about 2/10 of a mile and came to where you could turn right or left. Turning right would take you to the visitors center. We turned left and walked another 1/2 mile or so to the overlook. On our way to the overlook, we passed the trail on the left that takes you down to the river. We didn’t take this trail today. We kept on going straight, descending down to the overlook. When you are almost there, you take stairs down to the actual overlook. At this overlook, you are above the falls on the left hand side of the falls. If you look up to your left, you can see people on the Chimney View Overlook. After enjoying the views here, we headed out. Of course when you head out, you’ve got a pretty good ascent and this is why the trail is rated difficult. We stayed straight on the trail until we reached the visitors center.
We walked through the visitors center area and crossed a bridge for our 4 other destinations. On the way to the other destinations, you will come across a path on the right. There is a gravel parking area out that way where people park when the parkway is closed.
But, continuing on. There are 4 overlooks. They are (and in this order) Upper Falls Overlook, Chimney View Overlook, Erwins View, and Gorge View. When we go here, we always hike to the end and work our way back.
So, today we walked 8/10 of a mile from the visitors center on a moderate trail. What I read says that the trail is moderate, but there’s a gradual elevation gain that some people were really struggling with. When you get to the end of the trail, you have the steps to Erwins View on your left. We walked a few more feet to Gorge View. No waterfall view here. But, you have really nice view of Linville River flowing through Linville Gorge Wilderness.
After enjoying the views here, we then turned around and pretty much immediately took a right up the steps to Erwins View. There are actually 2 overlooks at Erwins View. The first that you come to has views downstream into the gorge. You can then climb up a few more steps to a flat boulder. This is where you will have you waterfall view off in the distance.
After enjoying the views, we went back out to the trail and backtracked about 1/10 of a mile, and then took the trail to Chimney View Overlook on the right. Took a short walk to the overlook which provides you with a closer view of the waterfall. I got scared here. A family came down to the overlook and their girl that was probably 14 years old just ran and plopped herself up on the ledge of the overlook. Her parents just about freaked out. It freaked me out. It’s a long fall down into the gorge from up there.
We headed out and then went back down to Upper Falls Overlook. When you arrive at the overlook, on your right you can see where the water starts falling through a slot in the canyon, above the big waterfall. Go around to your left to enjoy the two small / 15 foot waterfalls.
After enjoying this area, we headed back to the car. We walked probably a little over 3 miles today, but there was so much to see in those 3 miles.
Here is a map of the Linville Falls trails. https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/upload/Linville%20Falls%20Trails.pdf
We walked to the end of the trail and are going to do all of the overlooks as we backtrack. Erwins View is up the steps to the left. We’re going to start out, straight ahead, at Gorge View.