So far this year spring has offered us more gray, rainy days than I can count on my two hands, and both feet. I’m not really sure if that is typical in this area, as this spring is our first since moving to the mountains of western NC. Because we have had to entertain ourselves with books and indoor activities for weeks now, the phrase “itching to get outdoors” is an understatement. Between Sunday morning rain showers and discussing how many miles of terrain we wanted to cover, we decided on Linville Falls.
Driving down the highway to reach the parkway, the fog was so dense, you could barely see the tips of the mountains. The swinging bridge suspended between Grandfather Mountain was not even visible, and I hoped the tourists that paid the ridiculous amount of money just to stand on the bridge had at least been afforded a break in the clouds. Linville Falls. Good choice.
Since this was our first visit to Linville Falls, we decided to take in all the views the Falls had to offer. We headed up to the Plunge Basin Overlook as our first stop. The non-rule followers that we are, we opted to climb up on the outer most rocks to take in the view versus standing with the other onlookers at the designated viewing area. The view was absolutely breathtaking. A few times I found my thoughts drifting to a scene in an exotic rain forest; the blue water below, bright green trees, and stacked rocks that have been formed perfectly over time.
The array of trees covering the mountain offered such a beautiful variety of green – bright neon, to light and mossy, to deep forest green. I had an extremely hard time just walking away from such a magnificent scene.
After finally pulling ourselves away, we hiked to the Linville Gorge at the base of the waterfall. We enjoyed the hike down traversing large boulders, tree roots, and logs.
The base of the falls was no more or no less beautiful. Just a different perspective. We plopped down on a rock by the Linville River to enjoy our lunch, then leisurely crossed over the surrounding boulders, experiencing each viewpoint as we came closer and closer to the waterfall itself.
Next we hiked back to the visitor’s center, crossed the river, and made our way to the other three designated lookouts. We quickly realized this was a “hike” for “fanny packs,” (our name for tourists). The trail was very wide and, much to our dismay, filled in with rocks and gravel the entire way up. (A sometimes painful step in Vibram FiveFingers.)
The Erwin’s View Overlook was our next stop. It was a great view of the Falls in all it’s glory, from the very top upper falls to the basin. (I wonder if anyone has a photo of us standing on the Upper Falls deck!?! )
Next, we headed up to the Chimney View. After seeing the scenery from the other side of the river, the view was less than to be desired. So we kept moving.
We had one more stop to make to complete our tour, so onward to the Upper Falls Overlook we trekked. It was a “pretty” overlook and there were numerous families taking advantage of the perfect family photo opportunity. We just stood quietly at the rail astounded at how fast the water was shooting down the passage and imagining it being spit out on the other side.
As our tired and rock beaten feet carried us back to our car, we bid Linville Falls farewell and thanked it for a perfect day.
As we reminisced our hike on the drive home, we both agreed our favorite spot, by far, was the Plunge Basin Overlook, our favorite part of the day was simply being outside, and our next adventure will be next weekend.
How To Get There:
Linville Falls is located at milepost #316.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Views of the waterfall can be seen from two trails, an upper trail (Erwin’s View Trail) and a lower Plunge Basin Trail. A bridge just past the gift shop/restroom area leads across the Linville River and to your first stop above the falls. From there the path leads to the Chimney View Overlook and Erwin’s View Overlook.
(This post was originally published on our sticks or stones blog, which is no longer in publication.)