Linville Falls Recreation Area, at Milepost 316.4, 2 mi. n.w. of Linville Falls, N.C., has three hiking trails that begin at the visitor center. The Erwin's View Trail crosses a bridge over the Linville River, passes through a forest of hemlock and white pine trees, and leads to four overlooks, each offering a different perspective of the falls and gorge. The first has a pretty view of the relatively tranquil cascades of the Upper Falls as well as the narrow slot through which the river churns on its way to the Lower Falls.
The trail climbs to the Chimney View Overlook where you'll have a spectacular view of the 45-foot-tall Lower Falls and the columns of weathered rock that give this overlook its name. Climbing higher, the trail ends at Erwin's View Overlook, which commands a sweeping vista that includes the distant Lower Falls and Linville Gorge. A nearby overlook allows you to peer down into the gorge. The entire 1.6-mile round-trip is moderately difficult mainly due to the elevation gain.
The Plunge Basin Trail, a more strenuous hike than the first, follows the opposite edge of the river .5 miles to the Plunge Basin Overlook, which offers a sidelong view of the Lower Falls as well the pool at the falls' base. The trail descends into the gorge to a second overlook on the rocky river bank for a close-up view of the Plunge Basin. Round-trip the Plunge Basin Trail traverses 1.5 miles.
The recreation area's third trail, Dugger's Creek Loop Trail, offers an easy .6-mile out-and-back stroll along a small creek with picturesque falls.
Picnicking and fishing are permitted in the campground only.
Time: Allow 3 hours minimum.