2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – October 1998

Sheer Beauty: North Carolina's Linville Gorge

Drop off the lip of Linville Gorge into a world of rock escarpments, deep forests, and whitewater.

by: Alice Daniel

PAGE 1 2

Linville Gorge may be the most rugged, lung-buster of a hike in the East, but don't take my word for it. Ask Hansel Singleton and he'll set you straight.

"It's rough any way you go about it. Some trails are so rough, a rabbit would lose his fur comin' up," says Singleton, a 70-year-old specialist at the Linville Gorge Information Cabin. "But it's one of the most beautiful places in the Eastern United States and well worth the trip."

Amen on both counts. In the 12,000-acre Linville Gorge Wilderness, where trails are unmarked and have a way of disappearing, route-finding is a challenge for even the most experienced hiker. But with the help of a topo map, you'll soon begin to feel like an explorer penetrating a magnificent sylvan fortress; rock ramparts guard the length of the Linville River, a wild cataract that sheds 2,000 vertical feet in 12 miles.

The wilderness contains a 39-mile-long trail network, the backbone being the 11.5-mile Linville Gorge Trail that parallels the west bank of the river. It's reached by seven shorter trails that drop sharply from the lip of the gorge through forests of hardwood, hemlock, and dense rhododendron. As you descend, fleeting views of the river give way to spectacular panoramas of the rocky shoals below. On humid summer days, a dip in one of the many swimming holes along the river is close to heavenly.

For up-close views of the most striking rock formations in a gorge renowned for its geology, follow the Jonas Ridge Trail on the eastern rim of the wilderness to Hawksbill and Sitting Bear mountains. Or take 5.6-mile Shortoff Mountain Trail to Tablerock and the Chimneys. Generations of avid rock climbers have been inspired by these monuments.

Looking for the ultimate physical challenge? Then try the primitive Pinch-In Trail, which gains more than 2,000 feet in a little over a mile. Hansel Singleton describes it as a "seat of your pants" kind of trail. And you know Hansel tells it straight.

PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: Star


Bob Underwood
May 25, 2012

One trail (network) by itself is 39 miles. Its called the Grand loop and it entirely circumnavigates the Gorge. Eighteen trails are listed on the official US Forest Service map. There are about 70 more Unpublished trails listed on Yahoogroups linvillegorge. The USFS map is the best PRINTED map available . DONT use the National Geographic map for trails in Linville Gorge. The article here is kind of a fluff-piece but the inofrmation on Pinchin is correct. First timers might like Rockjock trail on the west side.


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Falling in the backcountry
Posted On: Aug 20, 2014
Submitted By: Grizzly James
The Political Arena
How ISIS got rich
Posted On: Aug 20, 2014
Submitted By: Ben2World
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions