Daffodil Flats at the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area in North Carolina

Making the hike to the Linville Daffodil Flats has been on my wish list, but it seemed too daunting to attempt…until this year.  After lots of research, buying better hiking boots, and taking longer hikes to prepare, the weather and my schedule lined up perfectly with peak bloom.  I had to try and I’m over the moon to share photos of the epic journey.  I pulled into the parking lot around 7:40 behind one other SUV (note – road can be tricky for cars/low clearance vehicles as the last 8 miles is gravel with washouts to keep a lookout for).  From all the spider webs I collected on the way down, it seems that I was the first to head down Pinch In Trail that lovely morning. I arrived at the flats at around 10 am, just behind the couple I saw at the parking area.  Ended up taking a diversion upstream and having to backtrack after not noticing the turn in the trail near the huge boulder covered in fern and moss (GORGEOUSLY distracting location!!).  Missing that turn made my 7 miles in and out hike closer to 10 miles round trip but the river views, beautiful streams, rocks, and trees kept me exploring even though I knew I should turn around.  No regrets, even with the last 1.5 miles going straight up the mountain to get out – so thankful I was prepared and started early in the day.

To get to this former homestead covered in bright yellow narcissus, you have to descend into the Linville Gorge and there is no easy way to do that.  The shortest access is via the Pinch In Trail – 1.5 miles with around 1500 feet in elevation change.  You basically climb straight down the mountain over rock faces, roots, around ancient trees, and then follow the flow of the river 2 miles to access this magical spot. After miles of walking through the muted colors of the late winter landscape, seeing the bright yellow field of flowers was such a wonderful view to behold.  The hardest part of the adventure awaits after you leave the flats, I trekked in with both digital and film gear, so even after all it took to make it there, I had to quickly capture the flower covered scene before starting the ascent to get out of the gorge.  I spent a little time photographing the plethora of blooms, staying mindful that I had to make myself start heading back asap. After 20 minutes taking in this unique place, it was time to go.  

The gentle trail by the river was such a lovely walk, but knowing what was ahead kept me from lingering.  With the big photo backpack loaded with water, snacks, and all the photo gear I could justify bringing, there was an extra challenge to the climb.  One step at a time, straight up the side of the gorge, climbing a mountain that was starting to seem familiar by now, I made it back up.  It was hard for me to focus on pacing it, stopping lots to take breaks on the way, and drinking lots of water.  After this epic journey, I am so thankful that I am able to make it to these places and I’m ecstatic to share some of my favorite photos from the trek.  

If you decide to try this one, please do lots of research and preparation as Linville Gorge is a wilderness area, so trails are a little hard to find, and if anything happens, cell service is non-existent.  In the event that you needed to be rescued, texting 911 may help, but unless you know exactly where you are, the volunteers in that area can only do so much to help.  Be mindful and stay safe!

Photography by Camilla Calnan Photography

Location: Daffodil Flats on the Pinch In Trail

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