Canyon: Linville Gorge Loop, NC

Head to Asheville, North Carolina for this beautiful gorge loop.
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Head to Asheville, North Carolina for this beautiful gorge loop.
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Few people look for mind-blowing canyon hiking in the East. Their loss is your gain. Enjoy sweeping peregrine-eye views (and perhaps see one) over Pisgah National Forest’s rolling green hills, thunderous waterfalls, and quiet campsites on this 22-mile loop. Start by ridgewalking the gorge’s eastern rim before plunging down to the Linville River, with intermediate routefinding, several stream crossings, and a challenging 1,800-foot ascent.

INFO Reserve camping permits one month in advance from May 31 to October 31: (828) 652-2144; ncnatural.com/ncusfs/pisgah. Trip data: backpacker.com/hikes/379572

1. Wolf Pit Trailhead

0419627E 3964791N; mile 0

Ascend Shortoff Mountain; go right on Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

2. Ascend the Chimneys

0419798E 3970607N; mile 6.3

Camp on this rock outcropping for 360-degree views. Get a GPS lock here before descending into the canyon.

3. Into the Canyon

0420100E 3973358N; mile 9.5

Turn left on Spence Ridge Trail and descend to the gorge floor.

4. Rock Hop

0417296E 3965585N; mile 16.4

Cross tributary; take blue-blazed path to Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

5. River Ford

0418240E 3963261N; mile 19.3

A three-foot metal disc marks final 60-yard, knee-deep crossing of the Linville River. If rain causes dangerous flooding, take forest road south over the bridge to NC 126 (adds three miles).

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Canyon Bound

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