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.
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).
See more canyon hikes.