NCNatural's Linville Gorge
Linville Gorge
Wilderness Area

What is Wilderness ?--Wilderness Management

The Wilderness Experience

The Wilderness is ideal for primitive recreation. Hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing are the major activities in the Gorge. The area, which includes 39 miles of trails, is a rugged challenge to the most experienced hiker. Several rock formations along Jonas Ridge provide opportunities for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced rock climber. Those seeking areas that offer a more solitary visit are encouraged to explore the southern portion of the Gorge, south of the Conley Cove Trail in the western half, and south of the Chimneys in the eastern half. The northern portion of the Gorge surrounding Brushy Ridge also receives low use and would provide more solitude. These areas also offer a greater physical challenge due to the rugged terrain. Other suggestions for avoiding heavy use are to plan a trip into the Gorge on Monday through Thursday and during the months of November through March. Heavy use also occurs during fall bear hunting season, which extends from late October to early January. As a visitor to the wilderness, you should be aware that you are entering a primitive environment where you will be faced with the challenge of being entirely self-sufficient for whatever time you decide to remain there. There will be no shelters, campgrounds, water spigots, restrooms, or detailed trail signs. In the gorge, there often isn't even much of a trail. You must travel by foot because no motorized vehicles are permitted in wilderness areas. You will meet and live with nature on its own terms, and become familiar with the sometimes scary feeling of being comepletely on your own away from the comforts and conveniences of civilization.

You are free to explore and discover the natural attractions this wilderness has to offer. You probably will be able to locate and follow the more popular trails in the area even though they are not marked, but map and compass reading skills are essential for wilderness travel. Experienced hikers may wish to leave the trails to explore untracked terrain or to experience maximum solitude and challenge. This should be attempted only by those who have the equipment, knowledge, and survival skills to meet any condition of terrain, climate, and exertion.

Perhaps the most important part of your trip will be the time spent at home planning, provisioning, and practicing. The wilderness offers a rewarding and safe experience for those who go fully prepared.

In addition to the Linville Gorge Wilderness, the Grandfather Ranger District offers many other opportunities for a high quality outdoor experience. These areas are less publicized than Linville Gorge and are, therefore, not as heavily used. The Wilson Creek area, Lost Cove, and Curtis Creek are excellent for hiking and backpacking. Information on these and other areas is available at the District Ranger's Offlce.

Use the following trail chart to choose the degree of challenge and solitude you wish.

Linville Gorge Trail Guide
Trail Name Difficulty Level Remarks
Babel Tower Most Difficult Popular
Brushy Ridge Most Difficult Very Primitive
Bynum Bluff Most Difficult  
Cabin Most Difficult  
Cambric Branch Most Difficult Very Primitive
Conley Cove More Difficult Heavily Used
Devils Hole Most Difficult Very Primitive
Jonas Ridge Most Difficult Very Primitive
Little Table Rock Most Difficult Very Primitive
Linville Gorge More Difficult Heavily Used
Pinch In Most Difficult  
Rock Jock Most Difficult Very Primitive
Sandy Flats Most Difficult  
Shortoff Most Difficult Heavy Day Use
Spence Ridge More Difficult Popular
Table Rock More Difficult Very Heavy Day Use
Table Rock Gap Most Difficult Very Primitive

More Difficult = Requires some skill and challenge to travel; moderate grades (30% maximum pitch), tread may be rough, route generally discernable.

Most Difficult = Requires high degree of skill and challenge to travel; moderate to steep grades (over 30% pitch maximum), no graded tread, route may not be discernable.

What is Wilderness?

The 1964 Wilderness act describes wilderness as an area...

Wilderness Management

The Wilderness Act also spells out the Forest Service Role in managing the area. It says wilderness should be protected and managed to preserve its natural conditions and wilderness character. And it should be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such a manner as will leave it unimpaired for future use.

What is allowed...

What is prohibited...

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