There’s not much to the town of Linville, North Carolina (with a population total of 564) on appearance—but what it lacks in size it makes up for in natural beauty. Located in Avery County, Linville is an unincorporated community stretching through the middle of miles and miles of recreational wonderland, from summertime hiking to cold weather skiing. Linville’s lack of incorporation means there are parts of this “city” that are literally wilderness.
Why Linville, NC is An Outdoor Lover’s Paradise
Linville is a part of North Carolina’s High Country, the seven northern counties in the western part of the state defined by their high altitude location in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Their spot on the map makes them a favorite place for outdoor enthusiasts to visit and live.
Linville, NC is Home to North Carolina’s Only Caverns
In the early 1800s, a fishing expedition was shocked to see fish swimming in and out of what appeared to be solid rock. When they investigated, the fisherman found a small opening in the rock that lead to a subterranean recess. Inside was a hidden limestone cavern that came to be called Linville Caverns. The caverns opened to the public in 1937 and are the only caverns in North Carolina open for tours.
The natural limestone caverns feature stalactite and stalagmite formations and an underground stream where blind fish live. Informative and professional guides lead tours through the caverns seven days a week from March to November and on the weekends between December and February.
Linville is Surrounded by Awesome Mountain Towns
It’s hard to deny the charm of a small mountain town, and the area surrounding Linville, NC has tons of them. Some favorites include:
- Blowing Rock has more than 100 shops and two dozen restaurants and was named the “prettiest small town in N.C.”
- Boone is a funky little town with shops, restaurants and breweries. It’s also home to Appalachian State University.
- Banner Elk is surrounded by some of the highest mountains east of the Rockies and has a booming arts and cultural scene.
- Valle Crucis is a small town best known as the home of the original Mast General Store, built in 1883 and still in business.
It’s Home to the “Grand Canyon of the East”
When people say there’s “gorge”-ous scenery around Linville, NC, that’s no joke. Comprising nearly 12,000 acres around the Linville River, the Linville Gorge, sometimes called the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is a rugged and spectacular place where people come to play. The gorge is home to a diverse amount of plant and animal life, and outdoor enthusiasts visit from all over North Carolina and beyond to hike, camp and climb here. Whether you spend your time at the bottom of the gorge fishing or wading through the Linville River, or climbing the peaks surrounding the gorge to take in the Blue Ridge views, Linville Gorge is a recreational playground you’ll want to return to again and again.
The Hiking is World-Class
The hiking in and around Linville, NC is some of the best in the state, leading to waterfalls, mountain peaks and twisted rock formations.
For a great view of the Linville River and Linville Gorge, try the popular Table Rock Trail located just outside the Linville Gorge Wilderness Boundary. This short (2 miles out and back) and moderately difficult trail leads to the summit of Table Rock and offers 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains.
Just down the road from the Table Rock Trail is the Hawksbill Mountain Trail, a less trafficked and shorter (1.5 mile round-trip) trail that leads to the summit of Hawksbill Mountain. From here you’ll see 360-degree views of some of North Carolina’s most famous mountains: Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain. On a clear day you can even make out the skyline of Charlotte, nearly 90 miles away.
Finally, both Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain in the east, are near Linville. Both mountains and the recreational areas around them have a plethora of hiking and backcountry trails.
It’s Close to Great Skiing in the Winter Months
These ski resorts typically open in mid-November and each offers lessons for newbies and kids. There are a variety of ski runs to suit the comfort level of everyone, from the beginner to the most experienced skier.
Four of the Best Campgrounds Near Linville, NC
While the fun times around Linville, NC seem endless, finding a place to sleep in the area is necessary and (unsurprisingly) easy. With public campgrounds in a stones throw to some of the activities listed above, you might find more time for fun than for driving to and from the campground. Here are four excellent options in the Linville, NC area.
Located within hiking distance of Linville Gorge is Linville Falls Campground, offering tent or RV camping, flush toilets and drinking water. Forty sites are available for advanced reservation and 24 are available on a first come, first served basis. The campground is right off of the Blue Ridge Parkway and makes a great home base for exploring the Linville Gorge and beyond.
“Cute campground with the cleanest bathrooms I have ever seen. If you’re in the tent sites, prepare to go on a little hike up some stairs to reach them. But they are lit with string lights on the way up.” — The Dyrt camper Julianne S.
About a 10-minute drive from Linville is Grandfather Mountain State Park, a large mountain park known for having some of the South’s most challenging terrain. The camping at Grandfather Mountain State Park is decidedly backcountry—there are 13 backpack camping sites along the park’s trail system, including at the Hi-Balsam Shelter.
Backpack camping requires a permit, and the sites are identifiable by signs and marked on the trail map with a camping icon. Water is available from streams, but make sure to filter or boil the water before use. This is bear country, so food and other scented items must be hung away from camp.
“We very much enjoyed our stay at the park! Centered right on top of Grandfather mountain, the hiking was incredible! Trails all around and beautiful views of those Blue Ridge mountains – see my pictures for views from the trails. Sites fill up quick, and of course tourists are abound especially during peak weekends (ie: summer through the fall) but overall an enjoyable stay!” —The Dyrt camper Brandon P.
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway and adjacent from Price Lake, Julian Price Campground is a great place to camp if your idea of fun involves getting out on the water. The campground has 185 campsites for both tent and RV campers. Of those sites, 185 are available on a first come, first served basis; the rest are reservable. The campground has flush toilets, showers, drinking water and a dump station, as well as both primitive and standard electric campsites.
“There is a spot within the park to rent kayaks which was great. There is a hiking trail that goes around the lake. There’s also a trail that you can access from the park that leads to Hebron Rock Colony which is an incredible hiking trail. The trail follows a river with lots of great swimming holes and the rock colony is incredible. Awesome place to camp!” —The Dyrt camper Danielle L.
Mount Mitchell State Park—one of the most popular tourist destinations near Linville, NC —has a small, quiet campground with nine non-electric tent-only sites. The campground is open May through October and has drinking water and flush toilets but no shower facilities. When the campground is full, many campers take to the trails and find a campsite in the forest. Trailside campgrounds are ample, but if you plan to make one home for the night make sure to register your vehicle with the park office before heading out.
“Despite its small size, this campground has hot showers, restrooms during the summer months and sites have picnic tables and fire rings. The views here are incredible and the access to the Blue Ridge Parkway can’t be beat.” — The Dyrt camper Sarah C.