My little sister had her 21st birthday this week, and she’s also closing in on graduating college this year. As she’s a lot like me, very outdoorsy and pretty rough and tough, we decided we should go camping. Sure, we could have gone to a campground nearby or somewhere along the parkway, but being avid hikers and the adventurous type, we figured it was high time we go camping somewhere a bit more rugged.

So, we settled on one of the places I’ve wanted to hike and camp for some time now, Linville Gorge. It’s known as the Grand Canyon of the East Coast, and settles along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Marion and the town of Linville Falls. It’s a canyon stuffed with pine and oak trees, hundreds of feet deep and carved out by the Linville River.

There are small, very remote campsites that aren’t numbered or mapped, with only a stone circle for a fire for an accommodation, dotted along the riverside. Literally feet from the water. After plenty of research and planning, I called the park ranger and requested one of the free weekend permits to camp in the back country here, known as the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area, for 2 nights and 3 days.

And since there’s no way to know where the sites are before you go (unless you read blogs of adventurers gone before you), you can only hope there isn’t another group/family already occupying your spot. But thankfully, there are sites every 50 yards or so down the river, making finding a site a cinch.

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I settled on the easiest hike I could find, since we’d have some friends with us that aren’t extremely rugged, but still adventurous types. That hike was Pine Gap trail, near Linville Falls and right at the top of the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area and one of the shortest distances to hike to reach a camp. It also dove straight into the Gorge in less than a mile, and ran along the river, giving us plenty of sites to choose from.

The first site we found was actually the perfect spot for us as a group, and one of the best sites I’ve ever had the pleasure of camping at. I’ve dubbed this site “Pine Gap Site #1” since it’s the first one to appear once you hit the river. Words can’t do it justice, so I give you these pictures.

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We setup hammocks to sleep in, cooked all our food (and most importantly, coffee) over the fire, and sang songs on my banjo late into the night. Not to mention we spent the entire Saturday playing in the river, enjoying the refreshingly cool water that only H20 off Grandfather Mtn can provide.

All in all, it was a phenomenal, peaceful, relaxing, and beautiful weekend. You simply can’t beat the scenery. Can’t wait to head up there again real soon.

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