Hike The Linville Falls Trail In The Fall For Out Of This World Color

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Linville Falls. The falls I was most looking forward to on our October trip and they let me down. I kept seeing this AMAZING waterfall on every North Carolina waterfall or Boone waterfall list and I just had to see it.

Falls cascading into a gorge surrounded by trees flaming orange and yellow. How could it not be AMAZING!? Well, what you don’t see in those pictures is all the people. Surprising? Not really.

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Before we actually saw it though, I was very excited for the hike to Linville Falls. We went on a Wednesday so I didn’t think it would be too crazy, and compared to weekends in October on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it wasn’t. But once we saw the parking lot packed full and cars along the road, our enthusiasm started to drop.

Oh well, we’re here, we might as well do it. So we parked along the road and headed to the visitor center. We can’t skip a visitor center, that’s just ridiculous. Then we hit the trail.

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First Overlook

The Linville Falls trail is pretty easy, especially compared to the Grassy Creek Falls trail somewhat nearby. It’s wide, kind of like and old road or something, for the most part but the little sections to the overlooks themselves are more narrow and a little rocky and muddy, which is pretty par for the course in North Carolina.

At each overlook we just felt underwhelmed. There were just so many people and it was like Oh, ok, this is nice which isn’t really what you want to be thinking when you see a waterfall you’ve been looking forward to for moths, you know?

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Once we got to the last overlook I appreciated it a little more but it still wasn’t as mind blowingly amazing as I thought it would be. I’m glad we did it or I would have been disappointed leaving without seeing it, but it wasn’t what I expected. But I can cross it off of my North Carolina bucket list now.

On the hike out I felt a little relieved to have finally seen Linville Falls, the falls I was so looking forward to that didn’t live up to the hype. It can be super disappointing to be let down by something you were excited about but sometimes it just happens and all you can do is say, well, I’ve seen it now and move on to the next waterfall.

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And this has nothing to do with the hike but on our way out we saw a guy lick a tree. This was in October 2020, mind you. Want to lick a tree? Sure, you do you, but this is a very very busy trail and this tree was literally right on the side of it. Ugh, he just licked a tree! I can’t even.

Sure, people don’t go around just rubbing their grubby hands all over trees, but they probably get touched and hugged a lot more than we realize and just, gross, licking a tree! In 2020!

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Where is the Linville Falls Trailhead?

The Linville Falls trail leaves from the Linville Falls Visitor Center. It’s about 45 minutes from Boone and a little over an hour from Asheville. It’s between milepost 316 and 317 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This trail is very popular so you’ll want to go early or later in the day.

The parking here will fill up, especially in October, and you may have to park along the road in. If you have to park waaaaay out on the road, like more than half a mile from the parking area, I would say skip it or come back earlier or later. I don’t think it’s worth that extra mile.

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How long is the Linville Falls Trail?

The Erwins View Trail is what takes you to all four overlooks and is about 1.6 miles round-trip. The first is 0.5 miles from the visitor center, the next is Chimney View, 0.2 miles from the first overlook, then shortly after is a view of the river, and finally, 0.1 miles from the Chimney Overlook is the Erwins View Overlook.

The first overlook is right at the falls, the Chimney Overlook gives you a good view of the upper and lower falls, and the Erwins View Overlook is the classic view you usually see in pictures. That was the most impressive to me and the only one you couldn’t see people at the first overlook from.

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Chimney Overlook

How long do you need for the Linville Falls hike?

I want to say we maybe spent an hour or so here. The overlooks were busy so we didn’t hang around them all that long. If you just go to the three overlooks, an hour should be good, but you’ll need a couple if you do the Linville Gorge Trail, too.

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What to bring on the Linville Falls hike

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  Even if it’s not hot you need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Neutrogena a lot, but if you’ll be visiting a beach soon, you’ll want a reef-safe sunscreen.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  A baseball hat should be fine but a bucket hat or sun hat could help keep the sun off your neck.

Sunglasses – This is a must no matter where you are.  Sunglasses are best paired with a hat on those really bright days.

Light Jacket – Because you just never know.  Weather can change quickly depending on where you are, time of day, and season.  I usually use my rain jacket for this.

Good hiking shoes – If you’re hiking when it’s warmer, Chacos will be good.  If it’s fall, muddy, or a little cooler out, you’ll want closed toe shoes.

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Erwins View Overlook

Is the Linville Falls hike worth it?

Sort of. I was pretty underwhelmed by it, I won’t lie, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It was a lot busier than I thought it would be, which really shouldn’t have surprised me for October on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It’s cool, but with the overlook right at the top of the falls, from any of the other lookouts, you can see people. If you’re just admiring it, that’s not a huge deal, but for photography it was pretty annoying.

I think it would be more worth it to do the Linville Gorge Trail instead of or in addition to the overlook trails because that takes you right down to the water with a view of the falls from the bottom. It’s more strenuous but wort it, I would imagine.

Have you done the Linville Falls hike? What did you think of it? Do you want to do it? Would you ever lick a tree?

4 thoughts on “Hike The Linville Falls Trail In The Fall For Out Of This World Color

  1. Any way you look at it, just being able to cover so many hiking trails is super; and to share those experiences with your readers is superplus in my estimation!

    1. It happens! I know if I didn’t do it now I would have wanted to next time. I think it was just totally different than I pictured it in my head based on pictures I had seen. It’s definitely not bad but not how I imagined

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