Sunday, November 20, 2011

Spence Ridge Trail Linville Gorge 11/5/2011

This trail is on the east side of the Linville Gorge accessed from the road leading from Gingercake Acres to Table Rock.  This is a much gentler but longer trail then the ones on the other side of the gorge.  The trail starts out almost level on an old road.  Don't be fooled though.  It is downhill all of the two miles to the Linville river which means uphill all the way back.   The backside of Hawksbill can be seen along this first section.

 After a short easy walk there is a sharp right turn at the only intersection we passed until we reached the river.  The trail begins to descend more quickly.  The leaves were wet and slick on the trail.  I was wishing I had remembered gloves as the morning was cold but the sun warmed us up about half way down.

We passed a spring that seemed to be right in the trail then began to follow a tiny run.  It became bigger as more springs and runs joined in until it was quite pretty.  There are several switchbacks as the trail drops lower into the gorge area.  We passed a couple of nice primitive campsites.  It is a pleasant descent till a short steep section right at the river

This trail reaches the river at the only footbridge in the Linville Wilderness area.  This spot is also known as house rock.  The trail that follows the river is on the other side of the bridge.  If you use one of the other trails on this side you must ford the river to access it.  The bridge is narrow but it is solid with a good handrail.

When we reached the bridge instead of crossing immediately we scrambled about 100 feet upstream on the rocks to a large rock with a pretty whitewater view.  This proved to be a sunny and warm but somewhat windy spot to have our picnic lunch.  While we ate several groups arrived at the bridge and all stopped to take pictures.

After lunch we crossed the bridge and followed the main gorge trail about a half mile downstream.  The trail immediately climbs above the river and stays where you can see the water but not easily access it.  This trail is technically more difficult being narrow and with many obstacles such as fallen trees.  This one rockfall beside the trail looked almost like a man made shelter.

We turned back and headed uphill fairly early because we knew getting out would be harder then coming in  This would probably make a good family hike to the river and the bridge but I would hesitate to take young children on the trail along the river.  The creek and rock formations along the way would be enjoyable for children and of course they would enjoy the long log bridge.