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Linville Gorge Wilderness

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

J-Dub and I took a holiday hike in the Linville Gorge Wilderness. The mild winter weather gave us clear views up and down the gorge with some slick footing along the way.

J-Dub, a young man in an orange sweatshirt, looks out over a leafless,winter mountain vista on Babel Tower trail in Linville Gorge Wilderness
J-Dub on the Babel Tower Trail in the Linville Gorge

J-Dub, a man in black pants and long sleeve shirt, climbs up steep rocks in hiking gear on the Babel Tower trail in Linville Gorge
J-Dub climbing up Babel Tower

We entered the gorge on the Babel Tower trail, a fairly moderate descent toward the tall, rock tower with a commanding view of the gorge towards Hawksbill and Table Rock.

Vie of Linville Gorge, a narrow, tree lined canyon with river running down the middle. In the distance is Hawkbill mountain in a sharp peak
View on top of Babel Tower in the Linville Gorge

After coming off the tower we took the Linville Gorge trail down and along the river. Walking along the unblazed trail with the rhythm of the river beside us snapped me out of my holiday haze and the adrenaline and stimulus of it was nice kickstart after cookies and egg nog!

Babysteps, a man in blue pants and shirt walks a steep, rocky part of Linville Gorge trail.
Babysteps on a slick portion of the Linville Gorge trail.

Along the trail were a bunch of amazing campsites beside the river. Springs made our going slow and slick, but there was plenty of good, accessible drinking water for anyone camping. J-Dub knew of a waterfall by the Spencer Ridge Trail he wanted to photograph so as we lunched in the shade of an over hang we decided to press on to Conley Cave and road walk back to the trailhead where we parked.

J-Dub, a man in all black, unpacking a hiking pack under an overhanging rock on the Linville Gorge trail
J-Dub unpacking for lunch on the Linville Gorge Trail

The bridge on the Spencer Ridge trail was washed out so we hiked on and found a nice campsite just south of the Spencer Ridge trail turn for J-Dub to set up, bumping into a few day hikers along the way.

After our pausing for J-Dub to take his photo we kept along the Linville Gorge trail to the turn for the Conley Cove trail and followed that up and out of the gorge.

J-Dub, in black behind a camera tripod, sets up for a photo in the Linville Gorge, on the other a waterfall cascades.
J-Dub setting up for a photo in the Linville Gorge

Conley Cove is a steep trail that switchbacks along a beautiful little spring. We followed a carin at one turn due to recent storm downages, but other than that the trail was fairly clear, turning off toward the road at a junction with the gorge’s Rock Jock trail.

Small wooden trailhead sign in the Linville Gorge Wilderness
Small trail head sign in the Linville Gorge Wilderness

Coming out of Conley Cove we had a short road walk back to the Babel Tower trail head and our car. The walk proved a bit longer and sunnier than we initially thought, but it was also cool to see all the awesome car and RV camping spots. Those folks probably had some great stars that night!

J-Dub walking along the paved mountain road back to the Babel Tower trail head.
J-Dub walking along the mountain road back to the Babel Tower trail head

Once back at the car we drove over to the other side of the wilderness to catch sunset at the Shortoff Trail by the Table Mountain picnic area. It was an intense drive, but well worth it!

Babysteps watching sunset on the Shortoff trail, The Chimneys in the background.
Babysteps watching the sunset on the Shortoff trail, The Chimneys in the background.

We ended the night with a visit to the Mellow Mushroom in Hickory for some pizza after getting off the mountain!

Stand with an almost full cheese pizza on top of a table. Condiments, straws, and restaurant cutlery below.

-Babysteps with photos from J-Dub

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