Out-of-town visitors are always looking to do “name” adventures — a place the folks back home probably have heard of and would likely be impressed by. Linville Gorge is one of those places in North Carolina, an area known for its rugged beauty, falls and 2,000-foot deep (in spots) canyon. A great way to explore this wilderness is from along its East Rim. More adventurous types can start at the south end of the gorge and within two steep miles be atop Shortoff Mountain (from there, the hiking levels considerably as you head north). Or, take Forest Service roads up to the Table Mountain access where you can quickly climb 3,680-foot Tablerock Mountain (great 360 views), check out The Chimneys (popular with climbers) or take the Spence Ridge Trail, down into the gorge (it’s the easiest trail down). Great photos that come with bragging rights.

More info: USDA Forest Service, Grandfather Ranger District, 828.652.4841; “Backpacking North Carolina,” Trip No. 7.

Maps: “Linville Gorge Wilderness, Pisgah National Forest,” USDA Forest Service.

Map of trailhead here.
View 20 Classic North Carolina Hikes: Linville Gorge, East Rim in a larger map

Location: Linville Gorge
Nearest town: Morganton
Latitude: N35 49.530
Longitude: W81 53.106
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 14.1 miles
Loop/one-way: One-way
Time to complete: All day