Saturday, May 21, 2011

Linville Falls North Carolina

Distance: 1.7 miles round trip
Elevation: 3,160 ft - 3,360 ft
Elevation Gain: 300 ft
Dogs: On leash

Linville Falls, taken with my cell phone camera.

On a recent business trip to Asheville, North Carolina, I took an afternoon off and drove the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville to Linville Falls.

Typical vista seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Below 2000 ft, the hard wood trees were in full bloom but above this elevation the trees were barren and the air chilly. Already enthralled with the area, I stopped frequently and view points to gaze out at the rolling green hills covered in hard woods. It was obvious that in the fall the area would be stunning.

The Upper Falls

Linville Falls is two hours from Asheville and can be very touristy on weekends. There are two options for viewing it. Pictures of both options exist in the small visitor's center so it is easy to decide. Since I was practically wearing slippers (continuing saga with tendinitis), I did not want to walk too far. As it was the trail was rougher than I anticipated. It wandered up and down, over roots, and up and down stairs. Normally a walk in the park, this route was more than I should have been doing. It was so scenic, however, that I am glad I broke the rules.

Looking down into the S-curve of the Linville River just before the Falls

The falls is actually a series of falls. The first is the twin Upper Falls. A nice view point allows the visitor to wander over layers of sedimentary rock and look straight at this first step. Turn around and water flows through an intriguing S-curve that has been eroded from the cliff face over millions of years. It is dramatic to say the least and a testament to the power of water.

The eroded channel just to the left of the S-curve

The Chimney View Point is reached 0.3 miles beyond the cutoff to the Upper Falls and is on the other side of the gorge and partway down the cliff face. From this vantage point, the 45 foot drop and surround cliffs are clearly visible. Turn around and one can follow the river as it heads to the entrance of the Linville Gorge itself.

Another view of the falls from the Chimney View Point

Anyone interested in Geology will be interested to know that the Falls spill over an actual Thrust Fault. The rocks along the Upper Falls are older than the rocks below the Falls. Cool eh?

Looking down the Linville River from the falls. The lighter green trees are Firs that have been killed by an invading insect.

I became so enamored with the area that I picked up topo maps and hiking guides to the Carolina Mountains. I plan to return this October for a week of scenic driving, hiking, and culture activities in and round Asheville.


Linda said...

An afternoon off on a business trip is truly one of life's pleasures.

montanasagrada said...

Beautiful stuff on your blog, and I love the geological approach. I was wondering, is commenting your blog the only way to contact you about it? I have a couple of questions, but it'd feel funny posting a full on email as a comment. If you have a contact form or email, please let me know about it!


NCmountainwoman said...

I popped over from Cedar Canyon. Great pictures and narrative on Linville Falls. I'm glad you were able to see parts of our wonderful mountains.