Perhaps the most famous North Carolina waterfall near Sugar Mountain is Linville Falls. Access the trails from two parking areas about 15 miles from Sugar Mountain: on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 316.4 and in the Pisgah Forest Linville Gorge Wilderness Area.
Multiple hike options take you to five vistas of the 90-foot waterfall that roars through and over rock cliffs. See all the views with a 4-mile hike. In spring, summer and fall, we suggest head to the Visitors Center off the Blue Ridge Parkway with restrooms, picnic area and info desk. At the visitor center, there are two starting options for hikes. The popular and less strenuous Erwins View Trail takes you to 3 overlooks above the falls, and the Linville Gorge Trail is a strenuous trail to the river below the falls. Photo Above: Upper Falls Overlook
On Erwins View Trail, the first overlook of Upper Falls is just a half mile up the easy trail. Stand in the “middle” of the waterfall with a birds-eye view of the water rushing into a twisting, narrow canyon below you. Continue on the main trail 1/4 of a mile to Chimney View to look down onto the lower falls and the cliffs. In about another 1/4 mile, the trail ends with two overlooks at Erwin’s View, including one overlooking Linville Gorge.
The second trail option, called Linville Gorge Trail, is much steeper than the other trail as it descends from the Visitor Center about 3/4 of a mile to the river below the lower falls. It’s a gorgeous hike with plenty of impressive rock outcroppings and cliffs. About a half mile down the trail, take a short detour to the Plunge Basin Overlook for a view directly above lower falls. Continue down the main trail to the river, but no swimming is allowed due to swift currents. When the river is not too high, you can walk upstream for a closer look at lower falls. Take time to rest here since you will need plenty of energy to hike back up to the parking area!
Linville Falls Directions from Sugar Mountain
Linville Falls is along our recommended 55-mile scenic loop drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway (read more). Or you can drive directly to one of two parking areas:
- Blue Ridge Parkway (Milepost 316.4): From Sugar, turn right onto NC Highway 184. At the stoplight, turn right onto NC Highway 105. At the next stoplight, turn right onto US 221 South. If an half mile, turn left to stay on US 221 South. In about 3 miles, turn left onto NC 181 South. Look for the Parkway entrance and head south. Find it on Google Maps.
- Pisgah Forest Linville Gorge Wilderness Area (best for winter hikes since the Parkway often closes for snow and ice): From Sugar, turn right onto NC Highway 184. At the stoplight, turn right onto NC Highway 105. At the next stoplight, turn right onto US 221 South. If an half mile, turn left to stay on US 221 South. In about 3 miles, turn left onto NC 181 South. In about 3.3 miles, turn right onto NC 183. In about 3.8 miles, turn left into the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. The parking area will be on your left. Find it on Google Maps.