Linville Gorge is one of my favorite places in the North Carolina Mountains. It's wilderness status, coupled with the ruggedness of its terrain, all but assure one can find solitude amongst its cliffs and coves. Little by little I am checking trails off my list to hike in Linville and on this day I had the unique opportunity to cross off a couple more. During my one-year stint with the U.S. Forest Service doing visitor survey work, I found that this day I would be stationed at the Cabin Trail parking area on the Gorge's west rim. Being an afternoon shift I figured by showing up early I'd have time to explore the five mile loop covered by the Cabin, Linville Gorge, and Bynum Bluff Trails in the northern reaches of the Gorge.
Arriving early my hike began by descending the Cabin Trail, one of the steepest in the gorge, descending some 1,000' to the Linville Gorge Trail at which point I'd turn north. The Linville Gorge Trail would then take me upstream for a couple miles, passing one really nice unnamed waterfall, before climbing steeply to the Bynum Bluff Trail. At the junction with the Bynum Bluff Trail, assuming I was still on schedule, I'd follow the side path downhill once again to the Linville River beneath the towering cliffs of Bynum Bluff itself. From there I'd make the demanding climb out from the gorge via the Bynum Bluff Trail, climbing 800'+, back to the road which I'd use to complete the loop back to the Cabin Trail.
The hike went off pretty much without a hitch, despite the fact that my knees had only barely recovered from my 18 mile South Beyond 6000 3-fer the week before. As with most of my West Rim hikes I didn't see a single person and I was able to 'discover' yet another unique corner of Linville Gorge. Come along and check out one of the best ways to kick off a work day that you can do...
Trailhead Gps Coordinates: 35.926100, -81.924063
Hike Length: ~5.0 miles Hike Duration: 2:30
Trailhead Temp: 60'F
Min. Elevation: 2,700' Max. Elevation: 3,800'
Total Vertical Gain: 1,360' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 272'