Monday, July 20, 2009
Linville Gorge from Wisemen's View
Touted as the Grand Canyon of the East Coast the Linville Gorge can be viewed from a point called Wisemen's View - from the town of Linville Falls, take HWY 183 towards Jonas Ridge and turn right off on the dirt road leading to parking for Linville Falls, Drive past the parking area and continue for about four miles on very rough rocky dirt road. We did this with a rental car - it can be brutal on your car and slow going but well worth it. I do not advise using a two-wheel drive car on this road! At the end is a rock wall and viewing station for the gorge looking towards Jonas Ridge and down the gorge. Here's a bit of information about the area and the Gorge.
The Linville River with its source high on Grandfather Mountain has, by its tremendous scouring action, formed one of Eastern America's most scenic and rugged gorges. The steep walls of the Gorge enclose the Linville River for 12 miles. The river's swift waters descend over 2,000 feet before breaking into the open levels of the Catawba Valley,
Elevation averages 3,400 feet along the rim of the Gorge and 2,000 feet on Linville River.The Linville Gorge Wilderness , in the western North Carolina Mountains, is part of the Pisgah National Forest. The gorge is formed by Jonas Ridge on the east, and Linville Mountain on the west and is bisected by the Linville River, which drops into the valleys below. The odd assortment of rock formations located on Jonas Ridge include Sitting Bear, Hawksbill, Table Rock, and the Chimneys. Elevations range from 1,300 feet on the Linville River to 4,120 feet on Gingercake Mountain. The terrain is extremely steep and rugged with numerous rock formations. It is covered by a dense hardwood/pine forest and a wide variety of smaller trees and other plants. Recreation opportunities include hiking,backpacking, rock climbing, fishing, and hunting.
Linville Gorge was first designated a wild area in 1951 by the Chief of the Forest Service. With the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964, the area became one of the original components of the National Wilderness System. The original 7,575 acres was increased to the present 12,002 acres by the 1984 North Carolina Wilderness Act.
The wilderness of the Linville Gorge is rich in both plant and animal life. There are five species of rare plants, several varieties of rhododendron, and virgin forests in the deep coves. The rugged terrain has always made development difficult, and the wilderness designation now prevents development in the gorge. Sand mrtyle, red chokeberry, azalea, turkey beard, bristly locust, yellow root, silverbell, orchids, ninebark, and wild indigo are among the many plant species. Animal species include deer, bear, squirrel, raccoon, grouse, turkey, vultures, owls, hawks, as well as brown and rainbow trout. Hikers should also be wary of copperheads and timber rattlers. Hunting and fishing are allowed but permits are required. Camping is permitted in the gorge but permits are required from May 1 through October 31. It is always a good idea to check in with the rangers and let them know you are going into the gorge. The gorge is a rugged and wild place and visitors should treat the wilderness with respect.
I highly recommend a stop at the Linville Falls Visitor Center, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, open April 15 - November 1 9AM-5PM. The center is well stocked with maps, and the rangers are a great source of "inside" information about the gorge.
(Info from the Forest Service)
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