You're Invited: Join the movement to protect our beloved, shared outdoor spaces.

Hiking in the Linville Gorge


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No matter your skill level or hiking preference, McDowell County has trails of all types, ready to be explored year-round. Our backyard is your gateway to the breathtaking beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Embark on a day hike and experience the joy of immersing yourself in nature for a few hours or a full day. With minimal planning and a few essentials like snacks and water, it's easy to make a spontaneous decision based on the weather. And after your hike, why not unwind at a local pub or brewery, swapping stories and photos of your day's adventure with fellow hikers?

For those seeking a more immersive experience, backpacking in McDowell County is the ultimate escape. Set your own pace and duration, whether it's a few days or a week-long journey. While it requires more planning and physical effort, the reward is unparalleled: a complete reset amidst the tranquility of nature.

These ancient mountains, with origins dating back millions of years, offer a glimpse into the Earth's remarkable past. If you're intrigued by the rich history and natural wonders of the Appalachian Mountains, consider section hiking along iconic trails like the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MTS). The Black Mountain Crest Trail is a great segment of the MTS to explore.

So lace up your boots, grab your gear, and embark on an unforgettable adventure from the heart of McDowell County. Below you will find some of our top recommendations for local hikes.


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Make It Your Nature to Protect North Carolina’s Outdoor Spaces

When you follow the 7 Outdoor NC Leave No Trace Principles, you can connect with nature like never before. Explore responsibly with these guidelines.


  • Before embarking on your North Carolina outdoor escapade, take the time to research your destination. Familiarize yourself with local regulations and safety precautions.
  • Always have a backup plan in case your intended destination is crowded or parking is limited. Consider exploring lesser-known areas or visiting during off-peak times to minimize your impact.
  • Pack essential supplies such as food, water, and appropriate clothing to ensure your comfort and safety in changing weather conditions.


  • Stick to designated trails and durable surfaces to protect fragile vegetation and minimize erosion. Camp only at designated sites or areas with existing signs of use to reduce your environmental impact.
  • Be mindful of your abilities and surroundings. Stay within your group's skill level and be prepared for unexpected weather conditions and potential hazards.
  • When taking breaks, step aside onto durable surfaces to allow others to pass safely without causing unnecessary damage to the environment.


  • Practice "pack it in, pack it out" by carrying all trash, including food scraps and cigarette butts, out of the wilderness with you.
  • Dispose of pet waste responsibly and have a plan for human waste disposal when camping in remote areas.
  • Remember that litter can harm wildlife and take years to decompose, so leave no trace of your visit behind.


  • Appreciate the natural beauty of North Carolina by leaving plants, rocks, and other natural objects undisturbed.
  • Refrain from picking flowers, stacking or moving river rocks, or carving into trees, as these actions can harm delicate ecosystems.
  • Follow regulations prohibiting the removal of natural objects from protected areas to preserve the environment for future generations.


  • If having a fire, adhere to regulations, obtain necessary permits, and keep fires small. Use locally sourced firewood to prevent the spread of invasive species.
  • Ensure fires are completely extinguished before leaving the area and consider using a stove for cooking on overnight trips to minimize environmental impact.


  • Treat North Carolina's diverse wildlife with respect by observing from a distance and refraining from feeding or approaching animals. Store food securely to prevent wildlife encounters and minimize human-wildlife conflicts.


  • Show consideration for other outdoor enthusiasts by yielding to uphill hikers, announcing your presence when passing, and maintaining a respectful noise level. By sharing the trails responsibly, everyone can enjoy North Carolina's natural beauty.