Linville Gorge Wilderness: Hawksbill and Table Rock
Designated by Congress in 1964, the Linville Gorge Wilderness has a total of 11,786 acres, all located in North Carolina.
From its headwaters high on Grandfather Mountain, the powerful Linville River patiently carves the rugged, steep-walled gorge that encloses it for approximately 12 miles. Within the gorge, the river drops a dramatic 2,000 feet before leveling out in the Catawba Valley.
The gorge's rim extends 3,400 feet, compared to the river's average of 2,000 feet. Plant communities range from lichens and shrubs on the cliffs to laurel and rhododendron along the riverbanks. In some spots, the gorge shelters stands of virgin timber.
This hike will start with the short but steep trail up to the spectacular views provided by Hawksbill. The trail winds through rhododendron and mountain laurel tunnels, then opens up to the sky. Table mountain pines and serviceberry shrubs populate the cracks and crevices of the rock outcroppings. From the top there are great views of Linville Gorge, Table Rock, Shortoff Mt and Lake James. This is an out and back trail 1.4 miles in length with elevation change of 700 ft.
Next we will drive a bit farther down the road to Table Rock and the Chimneys.This too is an out and back hike of 4.1miles and an elevation change of 700 ft. If we are lucky we may be able to find examples of the mountain golden heather, a small shrub found only among a few high rocks in this area of NC. It is on the federal list of threatened species. From the top there are more 360-degree views of surrounding Mt. and Linville Gorge. The next section of the hike to the Chimneys takes us through columns of pancake rocks. These columns are made up of flat layers of hard quartzite stacked on top of each other. When the softer rock around them eroded the Chimneys remained.
Please wear hiking shoes and bring plenty of water, lunch or snacks and rain gear. Trekking poles or walking sticks will be helpful. All participants on Sierra Club outings are required to sign a standard liability waiver. For more information contact Kathy Rigsbee @ [masked] or [masked]