Linville Falls – Tallest Waterfalls in North Carolina

North Carolina waterfalls

Among the spectacular waterfalls of Western North Carolina, Linville Falls is the most popular due to its easy accessibility from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Post 316. Cascading down in three tiers, the water finally drops forty-five feet into Linville Gorge, which is often called “The Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians” and then continues on until it reaches its ultimate destination at Lake James.  The volume of Linville Falls is the highest of any waterfall at the northern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

One way to reach the best viewing spots is to park at the visitor center on the Parkway and hike to the base from there. But that section of the road often closes in the winter due to snow and ice, so from November through April it’s often necessary to start from the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area instead. 

Like all of the hiking trails in Western North Carolina, those leading to Linville Falls offer remarkable scenic views. Take the 0.5-mile Upper Falls trail all the way to the top to see the entire length of the water’s flow.  Erwin’s View takes you to the Chimney View (0.7 mile) and Erwin’s View (0.8 mile) overlooks. For a perspective from the other side of the river, Plunge Basin Trail (0.5 mile) is your best bet.  From that, you can branch off on the challenging Gorge Trail (0.7 mile) to reach an area near the foot of the falls.  Pets can go along, but they must be on a leash.

If you’re planning to do some North Carolina trout fishing or just see some of the other sights in the area, a side trip to Linville Falls should definitely be on your schedule. A campground, RV park and picnic area with free parking are there for visitors who want to stay a while. 

The falls and 1100 acres of surrounding land were donated to the National Park Service, which now administers the visitor center and the trails, by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in 1952. He spent $100,000 to purchase the property from its local owner.

Linville Falls is probably the most photographed of the waterfalls of Western North Carolina.  And its forest setting offers plenty of opportunities for taking great pictures, with its mix of virgin hemlock, white pine, oak, hickory and birch trees. In the spring, all of the trails come alive with a display of colorful wildflowers, and of course the spectacular changing of the leaves in the fall is a show unto itself.   But Linville Falls can be even more beautiful when the weather turns colder, and it’s not as crowded then.

The United States Forest Service manages the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area as part of the Pisgah National Forest. It’s very popular with backpackers, hikers and rock climbers. In fact, the gorge’s Shortoff Mountain and Table Rock are two of North Carolina’s major climbing destinations.

The area is also prime habitat for deer, bear, raccoon, turkey, and ruffled grouse. Fans of North Carolina trout fishing will find plenty of rainbow, brown and brook trout in the Linville River. You’ll need to have a state fishing license.

The hiking trails in Western North Carolina are naturally popular with residents of The Coves Mountain River Club. The opportunity to get out and enjoy the beauty of their environment, get some exercise and breathe the healthy air makes day trips to Linville Falls a large part of the enjoyment of living in the area.

It’s also one of the reasons The Coves is so popular as a planned mountain community.  There’s a lot to be said for waking up and seeing panoramas of such remarkable natural beauty through every window.  The 3,600 acre gated community with five miles of Johns River frontage and offers exciting home design options tailor-made to fit the mountain lifestyle. And the long list of amenities includes miles of trails, community gardens and parks and a well-appointed mountaintop lodge with 360 degree panorama views.

The Coves Mountain River Club is just far enough from city life to provide all the tranquility of country living. But it’s still within easy driving distance of nearby towns and metropolitan areas to give you access to all of their shopping, dining, entertainment and cultural activities.

Planning a visit to Western North Carolina? Be sure to stop by for a tour and see how great retirement living can be in a mountain community built in the heart of it all.

Ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide  packed with information about living in the foothills.

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