Hammock Camping the Linville Gorge – 4 Day Backpacking Trip

Join us for 4 days of hammock camping, hiking and backpacking in North Carolina’s Linville Gorge wilderness area.

Located in the Pisgah National Forest, Linville Gorge – or simply “The Gorge” as local hikers prefer to call it – is a 12 mile long gorge carved into the surrounding southern Appalachian mountains by the Linville River.  The distance from upper ridge to the river below is roughly 1,400′, which coupled with the network of minimally maintained wilderness trails and unofficial trails, can make for quite a rugged experience.  This is not the rolling mountain experience offered up by the neighboring Smoky Mountains, lumbering just 75 miles to the west.  The Gorge has a reputation for being a bit of a beast.  And yet for some reason I couldn’t help but notice a permanent trace of laziness in the air.

Typically, I quite enjoy the hustle of a good long distance hike.  The more miles, the more exciting the trip, but Linville Gorge quickly had a different affect on me.  I spent most of my time on the trail daydreaming about the next time I could be swinging in my hammock.  Which was perfect because Mike and I had 4 days off and nothing to do but just that.

Speaking of days off, it should be pointed out that the Forest Service has enacted a consecutive stay limit of 2 days, 3 nights for camping within the Linville Gorge wilderness area.  Fortunately, the surrounding Pisgah National Forest does not have such restrictions.  With a little planning, you can easily spend a night just outside the limits of the wilderness area and you’re good to go.  There are decent opportunities for this strategy along the western side of the Gorge, where the Mountains to Sea Trail follows along the boundary line.  From May 1st through October 31st there is also a permit required for back-country camping on weekends and holidays.  Thankfully, it’s free and simple – I called a few weeks beforehand and they actually faxed me our pass within a half hour or so.

If you decide to plan a trip of your own, I highly recommend heading over to the forums on Linvillegorge.net.  The Gorge Rats have a wealth of knowledge and are very friendly and helpful to those of us noobs looking to rummage through The Gorge.  There’s also treasure trove of goodies for your GPS including potential camp sites, water sources, official and unofficial trails, points of interest, etc.

Full GPS data for this trip, recorded with my Garmin Oregon 650, is available for download on the Trip Data page.

Parking Location: 
Conley Cove Trail Head N35 53.414 W81 54.380

Link to Nebo Water Gauge: 
There are currently no bridges across the river, so trust me, you want to keep an eye on this.  Readings of 100 cfs or less seem to be ideal.  200 cfs will create approximately waist deep conditions.

Hammocks Used
Hennessy Expedition Asym with standard tarp
Eno Atlas Straps with Black Diamond Neutrino Carabiners

Hennessy Expedition Asym with Hennessy Deluxe Hex Tarp (12’x12′)
Liberty Mountain Aluminum Guyline Adjusters for tarp pullouts
Kammok Python Straps with Black Diamond Neutrino Carabiners
Want more gear list info? Check out my previous video: Ultralight Backpacking Gear List

List of Trails Used, Day 1:
Conley Cove Trail
Linville Gorge Trail (Follows river along bottom of gorge)
Set up camp near the banks of the Linville River
Mileage for the Day: 10.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,627′
Elevation Loss: 2,185′

List of Trails Used, Day 2, Part 1:
Return to Car via Conley Cove and LGT
Drive to second location.
Mileage for the Day Part 1: 3.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,204′
Elevation Loss: 535′

Route for First Day and Second Morning

Route for First Day and Second Morning

Second Parking Location:
Wolfpit Trailhead N 35 49.449 W 81 53.365

List of Trails Used, Day 2, Part 2:
Wolfpit Trail
Mountain to Sea Trail (MST)
Set up Camp along cliff near Shortoff Mountain
Mileage for the Day Part 2: 2.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,109′
Elevation Loss: 75′

List of Trails Used, Day 3:
Continue on Mountain to Sea Trail (MST)
Set up camp along the MST, outside of wilderness area.
Mileage for the Day: 6.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 840′
Elevation Loss: 1,112′

List of Trails Used, Day 4:
Reverse course on the Mountain to Sea Trail (MST)
Shortcut via Jeep Trail (circumvents Day 2 Campsite)
Wolfpit Trail
Return to Wolfpit Parking area and car
Mileage for the Day: 5.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 892′
Elevation Loss: 1,795′

Total Mileage for Trip: 29.2 miles
Total Elevation Gain for Trip: 5,672′
Total Elevation Loss for Trip: 5,702′

Route for Days 2 - 4

Route for Days 2 – 4

10 thoughts on “Hammock Camping the Linville Gorge – 4 Day Backpacking Trip

  1. I am so glad y’all came here, this is my backyard. I have years of hiking/backpacking in the Pisgah Forest. (Brevard being the best place) I glad y’all enjoyed it down here and hope you come back. Next time check out the Shining Rock Wilderness area and Black Basalm. Its amazing, wish I could post a pic to show you. Anyways great videos!!! Keep them coming!!!

    • Thanks, Adam! It was an awesome area, with a a great vide. I’ll definitely look into researching Shining Rock and Black Basalm as well 🙂

      • Anytime…just always enjoy the videos. Also did I hear in one of videos that Mike was a nurse? I’m a nurse also, just thought that was cool. Next time y’all come this way let me know, my wife and I are always up for a backpacking trip.

      • Also there is an unofficial trail at linville gorge called lead mine trail…it’s south and branches off the pinnacle and mts trail…it connects to the new river gorge trail and makes a great loop. Its not on maps but u can Google and research info about it. I did it back in June and like said earlier makes a awesome loop that u can’t see on maps.

  2. Sintax,
    I enjoy viewing your videos and always look forward to sharing you adventures vicariously. Please film more of your time in camp, it reminds me of my camping adventures when I was a younger man. Anyone that would drive 10-12 hours to go hiking has to have it in their blood! Thanks for sharing the equipment you carry and also the new stuff. Keep up the good work and I’ll be enjoying it!

    Jim Chapman in Birmingham, Alabama

  3. Hey, now that you and Mike (trailkilla) have both started to video your hikes, why not do multi cam productions? I honestly don’t have the enthusiasm to watch 2 separate videos of the same hike, so why not take both of your’s footage into a single edit, take the best parts and upload the same video for both channels? That would be an awesome team effort.

    I’m glad you had a small match between the Renovo Trio and Sawyer Mini! I used the Renovo Trio on our Bear’s Trail hike this year and noticed a few things here. First is the 28mm connector, which for some reason didn’t screw too well on our water packs. The seal either leaked or slipped off. Did you experience anything similar? Seeing the Sawyer Mini in action too, I think the Renovo has a noticeably slower pour? Did that get on your nerves at any point?

    • Hi Jari,

      Yeah I noticed that the Sawyer Squeeze bags fit onto the Renovo a little weird. They seems to be sitting at a weird angle. Using the Renovo with a Platypus bladder has been working well though. You’re not alone with thinking that the flow rate is slower. I think it may have something to do with going thought the third stage of carbon filtration, but it definitely seems to have a slower flow rate than my Sawyer. I didn’t find it terribly annoying, but noticeable.

      Regarding Mike’s videos, he’s pretty excited about having his own channel now and our styles / perspectives are pretty different so I so certainly wouldn’t ask him to turn his footage to me to edit into my pieces (plus I’m pretty obsessive and have pretty specific visions for my full length features anyway, haha). His channel is / will be more focused on other things like dog training, hiking with kids, etc so I don’t expect that there will suddenly be two versions of every Sintax77 video. Maybe the occasional overlap, but I go out on trips much more than he does, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

  4. Great video. You guys are always fun to watch. Thanks for all the great gear reviews. I have learned a lot from your web site. I enjoy hiking and I am slowly building up my gear for a solo overnight. Your videos always inspire me to get out there. Thanks!!

  5. Awsome job on ur channel I am looking at possible trips for next year…this year I am going to Isle royale and bear island …then possibly Manistee river trail. I am a very avid fisherman and now am combining hiking w my fishing adventures. Do u have any suggestions (trying to stay within a 10 hour drive of Fort Wayne indiana

Leave a Reply