River of Cliffs A LOOP AROUND LINVILLE GORGE
Peering into Linville Gorge from the towering rock formation known as The Chimneys, a nineteenth-century traveling party turns to their guide and asks, Does the Linville run there? He replies, Yes, and, poor thing, it sees troublous times before it gets out of there, too.
Start out on NC 183 near the community of Linville Falls. Turn south onto Kistler Memorial Highway (Old NC 105). Drive 16 miles to the end and turn left on NC 126. Go 5 miles and turn left onto Fish Hatchery Road. Go 7 miles, then turn left onto NC 181 north. After 3 miles, turn left onto Simpson Creek Avenue. Go a quarter mile and turn right onto the usually unsigned national forest road. At 9 miles, the road passes by Forest Road 210B, which leads to Tablerock Mountain. At 14.4 miles, the road joins Gingercake Road. Drive a quarter mile, then turn left onto NC 181. Head north for 3 miles, then turn left onto NC 183. In 4 miles the loop is complete. (52 miles)
Troublous, indeed. Linville is the deepest and most rugged gorge in the East. From Linville Falls at the head of the gorge, Linville River drops nearly two thousand feet in its twelve-mile run through the canyon. Mountains along the rim rise some two thousand feet above the river. But what really makes Linville Gorge spectacular is not its depth or the turbulent pace of the river. What really makes it cool is the topography of the canyon’s walls and rim. Striking rock formations and peaks called Sitting Bear, Hawksbill, Tablerock, The Chimneys, Shortoff, and Babel Tower line both sides of the gorge and provide unparalled views.
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