Whenever we do a big, challenging hike I like to share exactly what we did in case others want to try it. I’ve hiked down into the Linville Gorge on two occasions. When most people visit Linville Falls in Pisgah National Forest they stay at the top trails to see the waterfalls from up above. We have done it many times and it is a must do for anyone visiting the area for the first time.
I have to tell you a secret though, if you want to avoid the crowds, if you want to get really close to the water, if you want solitude, if you want to really challenge yourself, HIKE DOWN INTO THE GORGE! I’ve attached my video to the top of this post of what it’s like at the bottom. Disclaimer, this is a challenging hike. If you have a fear of heights, it might not be the best hike for you. Little kids need to be watched closely and possibly helped at times. (my 11 year old has done this twice with me) I am in good shape, run and hike regularly, this was a challenge for me.
I have taken two trails into the gorge. I will share my impression of them both on here. First, how do you get to the trails? When you pull into the Linville Falls area, you will see the main parking lot. It is always crowded!! You want to stay on the gravel road and go past that. Keep following the gravel road up until you see the information cabin. There are restrooms there. Keep going past that and you will see a small parking area on the left. That is Pine Gap Trail. Probably the easiest trail down. I did that my first time down. It is the shortest trail down into the gorge. It is rocky. You do have to do some climbing. Once you get to the bottom you do have the Linville River. My video of that is here.
The bad about Pine Gap, during the first 50 yards, there is a very narrow path and to your left it is a freefall drop. Once you get past that beginning part, it’s not as scary, but it is a fast descent. You are climbing down rocks and have a lot of switchbacks.
The trail we did down on Sunday was Bynum Bluff. To get to it, drive past the Pine Gap Trail parking about 1/4 mile. The parking for Bynum will be on the left. It felt much longer than Pine Gap, not sure if it actually is, but it felt like it. Going down Bynum Bluff was MUCH easier than Pine Gap. It starts off rather flat, then towards the end you descend rather quickly. Next time I do it, I am taking Bynum Bluff down and Pine Gap up.
Bynum Bluff kicked my butt going back up out of the gorge. It was very slow going!! Pine Gap had a lot of climbing, but I seriously thought Bynum was never going to end. Lol. The greatest thing about hiking down into Linville Gorge…..WE SAW NO ONE!!!! Not a single person. But as we left the entire park area, the main parking area was overflowing with cars!! Trust me, it should be on your bucket list! And it is such a sense of accomplishment when you finish it!
**For safety measures, we did stop at the information cabin and let the park rangers know what we were doing. I gave them the specific trail we were taking. Where we were parking. Our car model and color. And I told them who was with me. It is a wilderness area so the trails aren’t kept up as well as the other trails. Just things to keep in mind if you choose to do it.
People always ask if we are scared of bears. No. Haven’t seen one yet.