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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
We ended the night with a visit to the Mellow Mushroom in Hickory for some pizza after getting off the mountain!
-Babysteps with photos from J-Dub