This waterfall is easily accessed off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina at mile post 316.4. The trail to the bottom is accessed immediately to the left of the visitors center here. If the parkway is closed, you can still access the falls from HWY 183. Coming from the town of Linville, you can take HWY 221 to HWY 183 and follow the signs up a gravel road to a parking area on the left. The upper falls, Erwin View and Chimney View can be accessed via this parking area. You can also turn left instead of heading to the Erwin and Chimney view to head back toward the Visitor Center and access the Plunge Basin and Gorge trail to the bottom from the trail that begins right behind the visitors center.
No swimming is allowed as it is too dangerous. The Erwin and Chimney overlooks are easy gradual hikes while the trail to the bottom of the gorge is strenuous.
The hike into the Linville Gorge, also knows as the Grand Canyon of North Carolina, is a rugged one. The rainy conditions make for a rather dangerous hike to the base of the falls but at the same time, saturate and deepen the autumn colors of the leaves. We had the place to ourselves for nearly two hours. In the late spring and summer months, this popular waterfall is crawling with people. A rainy autumn day provided the perfect scenario for creating compelling imagery.