Boone, NC has some great areas to explore: Grandfather Mountain, Mt. Mitchell (6684’ Elev.) and Linville Falls just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 316.4. Linville Falls is the Parkway’s biggest waterfall by sheer volume of water.
This hike could be described as a “Tale of 2 Trails”. The 1st half of the trail is relatively easy with the 2nd half being a bit more strenuous. There are some great views of the Falls throughout this short hike. Be sure to visit this trail if anywhere near Boone, NC.
The 1st part of the hike begins to the right of the Visitor Center, take the bridge across the river and in 0.5 miles reach the short spur trail to the Upper Falls Overlook. Return to the main trail and continue another 0.2 miles to the Chimney View Overlook for the first great view of the Falls. The last view on this side of the river is the Erwin View Overlook which you will reach in another 0.2 miles. Return to the Visitor Center for the second half of the trail which will get you down to the Falls.
If it was rated by itself, it would be a 4 in Difficulty, don’t do this part of the trail unless you are in reasonably good shape as it is quite a workout. The trail begins to the left of the Visitor Center and reaches the Intersection for the Plunge Basin Overlook in 0.4 miles, bear to the right to go down to the Overlook, reaching it in 0.2 miles. Return to the Intersection and bear to the right to continue on the trail to the bottom of the Falls.
In 0.1 miles from the Intersection you will go down a steep set of wooden stairs and then immediately bear to the right. The trail will go by a cliff on the right and reaches the river and Falls < in 0.2 miles. Decide how close you want to get to the Falls but be very careful on the rocks. Each of the overlooks has its’ own unique view of the Falls but seeing it from the river level was my favorite. Retrace your steps to return to the Visitor Center and your car.
Interactive Hike Map BelowTopo Hike Trails Map (PDF)
Hike route in Drag the map with your mouse using the icon Zoom with the controls on the left Mouse-over the icons in the map below for location shots
Linville Falls Hike Comments
Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Had a really nice time today on this hike. It's a beautiful spot. The trail to the bottom of the falls could use some maintenance. I was surprised how busy it was. There were lots of retirees driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway that stopped in and did the easier trails and there was a bus full of teenagers that would have rather been somewhere with wifi. If you stick to the harder/farther trails it becomes nice and peaceful.
Date of Hike: Sunday, August 9, 2015
Did this as an easy recovery hike the day after doing the Grandfather Mountain circuit. Definitely recommend taking the lower trail down to the falls, as you can't beat the feelling of being down there near the waterfall and the views that it provides. We explored off trail down the gorge some, but watch your footing as the rocks can be extremely slick. There are opportunities for wading, rock hopping, bouldering etc... Saw a few crayfish and tons of minnows. Somewhat steep descent/ascent, but it's something I think pretty much anybody can manage. Would be a good family hike.
By:4 girls and a Dad
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 27, 2011
I returned to this trail with my 3 daughters (6, 10, 12) and my wife this August after first coming here by myself bc (before children). The hike was even more stunning and memorable than I recollected. The second half is particularly difficult for little girls, but my experienced 6 year old could handle it. (a word of warning - it is a rite of passage to hike Old Rag at age 8 in my family - so I would'nt take your average 6 year old on this for her first hike) It is hard to believe you can get so close to such a large and spectacular waterfall. The surrounding area is chock full of waterfalls and unbelievable vistas. Stay at the Linville campground run by the park service for $17 with running water and toilets if you can't stomach back country camping or don't want to shell out money for a cabin or hotel. Grandfather Mountain is also a great hike just a few miles away. I will definitely be back with my family...soon!
Date of Hike: Friday, April 5, 2002
This is a great hike. The start is a little on the easy side. If you decided to go down to the falls it is a little more difficult. In saying this this was both my son and my daughters first big hike with the family. My son was 8 and and my daughter was only 4. Neither had a real problem with the hike. Although my daughter at times would be on her hands and feet (refusing to let us help her). If your family is always on the go and loves the out doors this is a georgous place to go and picnic at the base of the falls (remember to leave it clean). I have been back to the falls to many times to count with various groups and and my family.