Linville Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls on the Blue Ridge Parkway. People eagerly hit the Linville Falls Trail for a quick hike out to a scenic overlook for a chance to see the towering waterfall. But did you know there are actually five different ways to view Linville Falls? Did you also know Dugger’s Creek Falls is also nearby?
Located on a spur road at Milepost 316.4 the waterfall is about two hours from Asheville and less than an hour from Blowing Rock. The area includes a visitor center, hiking trails, campground, and ample parking for all types of vehicles.
Linville Falls Visitor Center
The 1.5-mile spur road off the Blue Ridge Parkway leads to a very large parking at the Linville Falls Visitor Center. The parking lot has plenty of room for dozens of personal vehicles as well as long parking spots for campers and RVs.
The visitor includes restrooms akin to most other restrooms on the Parkway, which is to say they’re usually clean but not exactly top notch. The small one-room visitor center itself has a small gift shop with typical knick knacks, a few books, and clothing, and a large map of the area.
Both trails begin at the visitor center. The distances marked below are one-way from the visitor center. Enjoy!
Linville Falls Trail
The Linville Falls Trail is the most popular hiking trail to view Linville Falls. It begins by walking through the visitor center across a footbridge over the river and on toward the waterfall.
Unfortunately, this trail is not really handicap accessible. It is a primitive dirty and gravel path with several steep climbs near the end. Wheelchairs certainly won’t make it on the trail. However, if you only have difficulties with walking you might be okay making it to the first overlook above the falls.
1. Upper Falls Overlook (0.5 miles)
Upper Falls is exactly that: it’s a scenic overlook above Linville Falls, but with a view of another set of smaller waterfalls up river. The 0.5-mile hike along the wide and relatively flat gravel path is easy and only takes about 20 minutes. The final spur trail leads out to a flat area on exposed boulders at the point where the river takes the first plunge into the gorge.
Standing safely behind the stone wall you can actually look down at the water rushing through the narrow channel in the rocks. It’s pretty cool seeing the waterfall from this angle.
2. Chimney View Overlook (0.7 miles)
Continuing along the Linville Falls Trail it’s about another 10 minute hike to a wooden staircase leading down to the Chimney View Overlook. The climb down is actually pretty strenuous; the wooden staircase gives way to a series of dirt steps with some pretty tall spaces in between.
The Chimney View Overlook is actually two overlooks, each located on a “chimney” structure of rocks along the gorge wall. The second outcropping is actually the better view of Linville Falls and offers a larger area for groups.
3. Erwin’s View (0.8 miles)
The last 1/10-mile hike is a doozy as the trail ascends almost 800’. It’s a strenuous climb over roots, rocks, and uneven terrain to the very end of the Linville Falls Trail at two scenic overlooks.
The Gorge View faces away from the waterfall and offers a nice view overlooking the gorge trailing off into the distance. It’s a nice view, but not one I tend to admire all that much.
Instead, I always end my journey at the spectacular Erwin’s View. From here you’re about a quarter mile from the waterfall so it looks very tiny. But this overlook provides the best view of the entire gorge, waterfall, and surrounding landscape.
Plunge Basin Trail
The Plunge Basin Trail begins at the visitor center behind the restrooms. It’s a lesser-hiked option to view Linville Falls mostly because it is the more strenuous option. I have to admit I have only done this once, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since then.
4. Plunge Basin Overlook (0.5 miles)
The trail begins with a gentle 100’ ascent and then descends the rest of the way. The path is narrower than the Linville Falls Trail but still well-maintained.
At a half mile from the visitor center the trail will split with the left leading to Plunge Basin and the right a spur trail to the Plunge Basin Overlook. It’s a short but steep climb down to the overlook and only takes a few minutes.
5. Plunge Basin (0.7 miles)
Continuing along the Plunge Basin Trail you’ll find the most strenuous quarter mile at Linville Falls. The trail descends about 600’ across jagged rocks and roots and steep drops to the bottom of the gorge. Several staircases make parts of the climb easier, but ultimately, it’s gonna take a bit of effort to get down (and back up again).
The trail come to the river just around a bend from the waterfall. Giant, flat boulders are exposed when water levels aren’t too high. A short walk around the bend brings you to the view of the bottom of Linville Falls. It’s pretty awesome to be able to see the water crashing through the channel into the river and rushing around this giant boulder right in the middle.
I have to stress, though, that swimming is not allowed here. Just beyond the massive boulder in the photo below is a shallow pool at the base of the waterfall. Swimming is not allowed on the Blue Ridge Parkway and it’s just a little bit dangerous that close to a 90′ waterfall.
Dugger’s Creek Falls
After hiking to the various views of Linville Falls it is entirely understandable that you might miss Dugger’s Creek Falls altogether. After all it took me years before I even realized it was there!
Dugger’s Creek Falls is a short 6’ waterfall in a tiny ravine, but the view is really nice. It’s only a 0.25-mile hike from the visitor center to get there. The hike is easy and takes about ten minutes. A rustic footbridge crosses about 30’ from the waterfall, but the best view to see it is to climb down to the creek and walk underneath the bridge.
Linville Falls Campground
The Linville Falls Campground is the smallest campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway with a total of 50 tent sites and 20 RV sites. It’s a wonderfully peaceful campground, though, located along the river leading to Linville Falls.
The campground has potable water, restrooms, a handicap accessible site, and a couple of group camping sites.