The hike takes you into Linville Gorge, down on Babel Tower Trail and up on Conley Cove Trail. You’ll find at least two good places to get to the river easily. However, you might average as little as one mile an hour because of the rugged terrain.
Almost everything you’ve heard about Linville Gorge is true. It’s rough country, with many snags and blowdowns, and the trails are unblazed although there are a few signposts. But it's not crowded. You’ll see few people at the bottom of the gorge because, except for the short walk to Wiseman’s View, none of the trails off Kistler Memorial Highway is easy.
Note: Sandy Flats Trail (which appears on old maps between Babel Tower Trail and Conley Cove Trail) is no more. It was wiped out by hurricanes and the Forest Service has no plans to resurrect it.
Length: 9.0 miles
Altitude gain: 2,100 ft.
Map: Linville Gorge / Mount Mitchell, Pisgah National Forest, National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map #779
Trailhead: From the community of Linville Falls on US 221, turn on NC 183S. In 0.8 mile, turn right on NC 1238, Kistler Memorial Hwy. Drive south for 2.9 miles to the Babel Tower trailhead, a wide grassy area on your right. Since the trailhead is not sign posted, you’ll need to use driving mileages to find it.
If you have two vehicles, you have the option of placing your second car at the Conley Cove trailhead, 2.7 miles beyond the Babel Tower trailhead.