Shortoff Mountain via Wolf Pit
based on 17 tracks & routes Linville Gorge Wilderness #5 hike out of 31 in
2 hrs 30 min
This is a difficult one way trail in Linville Gorge Wilderness.
This trail goes by Shortoff Mountain.
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Linville Gorge Southern Loop Back down by River
This trip is adapted from the "Linville Gorge Mini Grand Southern Loop" posted by kurtisk on May 18, 2011. His trip was inspired by a write-up in Backpacker Magazine. Our company was comprise of 8 (ages 40M, 24M,19F,18M, 17F,17F,15M,15M) and proved to be a major adventure for all of us. Of the group all had hiked Mt. Mitchell from Black Mountain Campground up except four, and four had hike Rocky Top and Thunderhead Mountain from Cades Cove. This adventure was close to the Thunderhead Mountain experience. Our trip began at Wolf Pit parking area which is a very informal, end of the road area. There is no security or monitoring nor any nearby businesses. Cars are parked between available trees and so forth. We had no trouble with leaving our cars there over Memorial weekend for the hike. We backpacked about 20 miles in three days spending two nights in the Gorge. The first night was at Saddleback Campground which is beyond Shortoff Mountain. I would highly recommend it as it has The Water Chimeys right there as a water source. However, it leaves significant hiking for the remaining two days. Along the hike to Saddleback are excellent views and especially the next part beyond Saddleback to the Tablerock area. The hike is along the ridge so mid-day hiking will allow the sun to absolutely suck the life out of you. There are water sources along the way. We had hope to find fountains at Table Rock but did not have success. Be prepared to encounter rockclimbers on the way and some awesome rock openings that you have to hike through. We found a fabulous formation to have lunch at. Once we arrived at Table Rock we found a sign indicating the bridge across the river had been washed away two weeks prior. Determined to cross we continued our trek. Another backpacker on the other side of the river in the same dilemma worked with us to tie a rope across and use a carabiner to slide our packs across. After that 6 of use crawled across a knotty pine log then balanced on a slipper log, jumped a wide span and made it across. The other three swam across in the very cool water. We had to dive to recover tent poles. If you swim across, do so upstream from where the bridge is as the current is very swift on the other side. After crossing the bridge (which took 1.5 hours) we were beat and setup camp not to far afterward. This left us an estimated nine miles to hike out the next day. On the third day we broke camp early but still an hour behind schedule and got on the trail at about 8:00 am. I had hoped for 7:00 am but it was hard to corral the group after the previous day. Once we got going this side of the trail offered some of the easiest to trek although many areas still proved to be treacherous. We passed the Lead Mine trail mentioned in the post by the kurtisk version but I think we are glad. Given his description of the trail condition and ascent our rock scaling was more fun and adventurous. We stuck to the river all the way down to our crossing This meant we had to scale rock which wasn't too back but required agility, attention to detail, and most of all teamwork. The island did throw us for a bit of a loop as we crossed onto the island and then back on the trail when we could have just followed the trail across a dried up stream to save a few steps. It was worth it though. If you take this path, be aware that part of it is along private property and signs are posted. We stuck as close to the flood line as possible to avoid trespassing and to respect the private ownership. Eventually you make around the private property onto an old forest service road and it is a pretty stiff uphill climb. Once it levels off you will see the Mountains to Sea trail to your right. If you cross hill it looks like a VERY STEEP climb on the other side of the side. We opted to go down a little further to where the river split and was more shallow. There were lots of rocks so we crossed with our boots on. The current was swift but manageable. After crossing the river there is no reward on the other side. It is still a steep a rugged climb back up to the intersection back to Wolf Pit Parking area. It is also un-shaded so doing this mid-day to late afternoon is again asking for the energy sucking sun. First Draft: Additional Edits and Pictures Forthcoming