Once you see Linville Falls, you’ll instantly know why it’s often considered the most popular waterfall on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Definitely the most photographed. With six stunning viewpoints, you can easily spend half a day exploring the falls from every angle. Or, just take the easier upper falls trail if you’re short on time. Either way, you’re going to enjoy this magical place. Bonus points if you see it in fall.
Plus, in our opinion, Linville Falls sits along the most beautiful section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Only 20 minutes away from Linn Cove Viaduct, here you’ll find some of the best spots along the parkway for watching the famous blue smoke sunrises.
We’ll walk you through what you need to know for the falls. At the end, we’ve included a few tips on some hidden gems nearby.
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Parking for Linville Falls
Both the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service provide parking areas to Linville Falls.
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, on Linville Falls Road, the National Park Service lot is really easy to find. It’s a paved lot, with a visitor center and restrooms. Typically, this is the best lot to use, especially if you plan to do Duggers Creek Falls or the Plunge Basin Trail. We explain both below.
The main parking lot at the visitor center can almost be impossible on weekends during peak seasons like summer or fall. Located off Old NC 105 in Linville Community, the U.S. Forest Service parking lot works well as an overflow. The lot is unpaved, with no facilities, but is an easy walk to the Upper Linville Falls trail.
When returning to your vehicle, just make sure you know which parking lot you used so you can take the right trail back. Keep a look out for the sign in the photo above.
Cost to Visit Linville Falls
One thing we love about the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is free. This includes the vast majority of the stops along its gorgeous 469 miles. It doesn’t matter which parking lot you use, it is completely free to visit Linville Falls.
How Tall are Linville Falls?
Linville Falls actually starts with a twin set of falls, typically referred to as the Upper Falls area. It then winds itself through a narrow gorge to it’s final cascade with a 45-foot drop.
Hike to the Upper Falls
Known as the easiest hike to see the Linville Falls, the Upper Falls is where it all begins. Pretty little twin falls start the cascades decent into the gorge.
Typically, you can access the rock areas above the twin falls and get pretty close to the water at the Upper Falls view point. However, on our most recent Fall 2020 visit these areas were closed off. Though it looked temporary.
It’s worth mentioning, though you can access these areas near the water, swimming is not allowed anywhere at Linville Falls.
From the Linville Falls Visitor Center, the hike to Upper Falls is only .5 of a mile. It’s an easy walk, but like all the viewpoints on this trail, it does require some stairs.
I think it’s the power of a waterfall I love most. Don’t miss the right side of the Upper Falls overlook. This is where the gushing water squeezes itself through the gorge, creating a tremendous amount of pressure and roaring noise.
Three Amazing Views of Linville Falls
To get the full view of Linville Falls you’ll need to go a little further. After ascending the stairs of the Upper Falls, follow the main path to the upper lookout points.
This is a slightly steeper trail, but it’s wide so let folks pass you if they need. It’s only .3 to .4 of a mile beyond the Upper Falls, so well worth continuing on.
At the top, you’ll have three choices.
- Chimney View
- Erwins View
- Gorge View
Though Chimney View gets you slightly closer to the falls. We favor Erwins View for the wider perspective. Plus, after a heavy rain Chimney View tends to get flooded out.
Probably not a huge surprise, Gorge View Overlook is of the spectacular Linville Gorge rather than the falls itself.
The viewpoints are as far as the trail goes on this side of the falls. If you are still up for more, consider viewing Linville Falls from the Plunge Basin.
Hike to the Linville Falls Plunge Basin
To get a close up view of Linville Falls, you’ll need to walk back to the Visitor Center. From the Visitor Center, follow the lesser used trail off to the left. Then around to the right for the decent.
It’s only .5 miles to the first lookout, and .8 to the plunge basin where you’re at the bottom of the falls. The National Park Service considers it a strenuous hike, but that’s only because of the very steep incline. Most hikers would consider it moderate, but it is definitely harder than the trail to the previously discussed viewpoints.
Dugger's Creek Falls
Don’t dash off just yet, there’s another waterfall only .25 a mile from the Visitor Center. Okay, so it’s not nearly as impressive as Linville Falls, but it is cute and super easy to see. Actually, it’s practically in the back of the paved parking lot, just a little hidden.
The trail is a bit rough, but as we mentioned it’s short. You can either view the falls from the little wooden bridge, or wind your way around the large boulders for a spot along the tiny creek.
The Overlooked Overlook at Wiseman's View
Not technically in the Linville Falls complex, but not far from it, is the spectacular Wiseman’s View. It’s one of those views pictures can’t do justice.
It’s free, and a bit off the beaten path. Plus, it’s wheelchair accessible!
Here’s the catch. Though it is only 5 miles from the Linville Falls U.S. National Forest parking lot (off Old NC 105), it takes around 20 minutes to get there. That’s because it’s down a rather bumpy dirt road, BUT very well maintained (4×4 NOT needed).
Along the route there’s several remote hiking pull offs. Then you’ll pass some wild camping sites, before finally reaching the parking lot for Wiseman’s view.
Where to Stay for Linville Falls
Books on the Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway releases a free travel planner seasonally. These useful books can be picked up at any visitor center, and many grocery stores have them in the free publishing racks at the store entrance. This provides a great overview of the parkway.
However, if you plan on doing some hiking, you’ll need something with more detail. We have the larger Falcon Guides Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway: The Ultimate Travel Guide and the smaller pocket size Best Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway.