Monday, February 24, 2014

Linville Gorge - Pinnacle Trail


       Pinnacle Trail in Linville Gorge

I can't count the number of times we passed by the Pinnacle Trail.  It is the last trail head on the Kistler Memorial Highway, the southernmost trail on the western side of Linville Gorge.  It is a short trail, about a quarter of a mile each way.  The views are as spectacular as the trails is easy.
From a lower cliff facing southwest, we got the first view of Lake James to the southeast in the distance. The Blue Lake is an impressive feature of the landscape of the Linville River valley.

To the south the blue horizon of the south mountains seem to melt into the blue sky

To the west the faint blue line of the Black Mountains are part of the horizon.

As we climbed up to the promontory rock, we found a wooden overlook facing the desolate face of Shortoff Mountain.  This mountain is the southernmost peak of the eastern rim of Linville Gorge and has never recovered from a 2007 forest fire.  The resulting appearance is a mountain that looks more like one seen in the Rockies than in the Blue Ridge.

From the overlook we could see the Linville River flowing into the Blue Lake.  It is hard to imagine that this river started its route through the Gorge as it flowed over the Linville Falls some 15 miles to the north.

Climbing to the top of the rock promontory, I was provided a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside. 

On the top of the rock, the National Geodetic Survey has placed a marker in the stone indicating the name "Pinnacle".

Looking to the north, a majestic winter view of the peaks of The Chimneys, Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountains. The damage from the recent Table Rock fire is displayed with the various rust colored streaks of fire damaged trees on the face of the mountain.

The contrast between the waves of the rock cliff and with the distance Blue Ridge Mountains makes for a nice picture.

From several locations on top of the Pinnacle, there were many interesting views of the surrounding countryside.

Climbing down from the Pinnacle we ventured down the Mountain to Sea Trail toward the river but realizing the hike back up was more than we had planned for the day we decided to return and got a nice view of the Pinnacle

Before we left we got another nice view of the beautiful Blue Lake in the distance.

And one nice view of the Pinnacle with the sun providing an interesting contrast with the blue late winter sky.

This is a great hike.  It is short and not at all strenuous. You can reach the trail head by following Kistler Highway to the southern end of the Gorge.

The trail is a nice 8....too short for a good workout but well maintained....the views are a 9....great 360 degree view of the southern part of the Linville Gorge and surrounding countryside... Access is an 8....long drive up Kistler Highway from either end but not hard to find when you get there....Overall a solid 8...No excuses if you want to hike Linville Gorge this is a hike anyone can make!

The other hike anyone can make is Tanawha Trail to Wilson Creek out that blog entry too!


  1. If I'm coming from Morganton, how far up the Kistler Memorial Highway do I drive before reaching the trailhead?

  2. ck your map....if you come from the Lake James is the first trail head....if you come from Linville Falls,NC it is the last one....from Morganton you turn at Freedom High and Kistler intersection in on the right after you cross the Linville River bridge.....FBWG