Linville Gorge Wilderness
Burke County, NC
Sunday, September 25th, 2011
Near the Summit of Hawksvbill
This past Sunday I joined my buddy Andy and his dog Boone for a hike into the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Our plan was to do the following loop hike:
Sitting Bear Trailhead > Devil's Hole > River ford > Linville Gorge Trail > Spence Ridge Trail > Spence / Ledge connector > Ledge Trail > Hawksbill > Sitting Bear Trailhead
This would require a crossing the Linville River, which should not be a problem this time of year. During the summer, the river levels generally stay low except immediately following a very heavy rain. Since there was no rain in the forecast we figured it would be OK.
Andy decided to take advantage of the nice weather forecast and spend the night camping near the trailhead before our hike.
Somehow the weather gods must have mistaken Andy’s tent for mine because a freak storm brought about 5-inches of rain to the area overnight!
Andy could not remember the last time he experienced rain that heavy while camping, but at this time we were not aware of the immense amount that actually had fallen, so we went ahead with our plan and hit the trail.
The Trail Head
The Devil's Hole Trail Sign
We don't know where the Helicopter came from,
but we discussed several theories during our hike.
A miniature alien spaceship seems the most likely explanation
The Devil’s Hole Trail begins at the Sitting Bear Trailhead and descends about 1,200 feet to the Linville River. About half way down, the trail meets up with a small stream which today was roaring!
The trail crosses over the stream several times. On most days, these crossings would be a non-event, but today they were quite challenging!
Based on the way this small stream was flowing, we were not very optimistic about being able to cross the Linville River. However, we decided to keep going to take advantage of what the rain did bring.
We stopped several times to photograph some nice cascades and small waterfalls, which during most days would not be worth a second look.
Eventually, we made it down to the Linville River and immediately upon seeing the river any thoughts of trying to get across were erased! I have never seen the river flowing this high!
Andy at the Linville River
The Linville River
Sitting Bear Rock
To me, Sitting Bear Rock does not look like a sitting bear, but it is impressive nonetheless. I am sure there are some nice views from up top, but it would be virtually impossible to get up there without climbing gear. Fortunately there are some nice viewpoints nearby that are easily accessed.
View from near Sitting Bear Rock
Andy and Boone
Boone on a Rock
Andy and Boone checking out the view
After taking a nice lunch break, we hiked on up to Hawksbill and enjoyed the excellent views from there!
View of Table Rock and Linville Gorge from Hawksbill
Andy and Boone on Hawksbill
Even though the high river thwarted our original hike plans we made the best of it and still had a great day of hiking! And we have an excuse to get back and try our planned route again!
The complete set of photos from our hike is posted here: