NCNatural's Grandfather Ranger District
Pisgah National Forest
Grandfather Ranger District - Linville Gorge

The Grand Canyon of North Carolina

View down the Gorge from Beside Wiseman's View

The Linville River with its source high on Grandfather Mountain has, by its tremendous scouring action, formed one of Eastern America's most scenic and rugged gorges. The steep walls of the Gorge enclose the Linville River for 12 miles. The river's swift waters descend over 2,000 feet before breaking into the open levels of the Catawba Valley, Elevation averages 3,400 feet along the rim of the Gorge and 2,000 feet on Linville River.The Linville Gorge Wilderness , in the western North Carolina Mountains, is part of the Pisgah National Forest. The gorge is formed by Jonas Ridge on the east, and Linville Mountain on the west and is bisected by the Linville River, which drops into the valleys below. The odd assortment of rock formations located on Jonas Ridge include Sitting Bear, Hawksbill, Table Rock, and the Chimneys. Elevations range from 1,300 feet on the Linville River to 4,120 feet on Gingercake Mountain. The terrain is extremely steep and rugged with numerous rock formations. It is covered by a dense hardwood/pine forest and a wide variety of smaller trees and other plants. Recreation opportunities include hiking,backpacking, rock climbing, fishing, and hunting.

Linville Gorge was first designated a wild area in 1951 by the Chief of the Forest Service. With the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964, the area became one of the original components of the National Wilderness System. The original 7,575 acres was increased to the present 12,002 acres by the 1984 North Carolina Wilderness Act.

The wilderness of the Linville Gorge is rich in both plant and animal life. There are five species of rare plants, several varieties of rhododendron, and virgin forests in the deep coves. The rugged terrain has always made development difficult, and the wilderness designation now prevents development in the gorge. Sand mrtyle, red chokeberry, azalea, turkey beard, bristly locust, yellow root, silverbell, orchids, ninebark, and wild indigo are among the many plant species. Animal species include deer, bear, squirrel, raccoon, grouse, turkey, vultures, owls, hawks, as well as brown and rainbow trout. Hikers should also be wary of copperheads and timber rattlers. Hunting and fishing are allowed but permits are required. Camping is permitted in the gorge but permits are required from May 1 through October 31. It is always a good idea to check in with the rangers and let them know you are going into the gorge. The gorge is a rugged and wild place and visitors should treat the wilderness with respect. We highly recommend a stop at the Linville Falls Visitor Center, open April 15 - November 1 9AM-5PM. The center is well stocked with maps, and the rangers are a great source of "inside" information about the gorge. They also give away pepermint treats and will gladly treat you to some great tales about the gorge and the other nearby recreation areas like Wilson's Creek.


Access to Eastern Section of Gorge

From Marion, take U.S. 221 north to the Intersection of N.C. 183 at Linville Falls. Turn right on 183 and continue to N.C. 181. Turn right (south) on N.C. 181 and go 3 miles to F.S. Road 210 (Gingercake Road). rurn right onto F.S. Road 210. At the first fork, turn left and continue through the Gingercake Acres housing development.
The first parking area is for the Devils Hole Trail - approximately 2 miles from Gingercake Acres.
The second parking area is for Hawksbill (parking area on left and trail on right) - 1 mile from Devils Hole.
The third parking area is for Spence Ridge Trail and North Table Rock Trail - 1 mile from Hawksbill.
Continue 1 mile to the first intersection and turn right (you will pass the Outward Bound School sign). Stay on this road, bearing to the right, through several switchbacks and you will arrive at Table Rock Picnic Area.

Access to Western Section of Gorge

From Marion, take Highway 221 north until it intersects with N.C. 183. Turn right on N.C. 183 and continue 1 mile to Old NC 105, Kistler Memorial Highway. Trailheads and parking lots, accessing the western section of the Gorge, lead off of Kistler Memorial Highway.

Kistler Memorial Highway via N.C. 126 can be reached from Marion by travelling down U.S. 70 east to Nebo. At Nebo, take N.C. 126 across Lake James and continue 8 miles until turning left on Old NC 105, Kistler Memorial Highway.

Kistler Highway is a gravel surface road and very rough in places.
It is not recommended for 2-wheel drive vehicles.

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