Overview: Is That All Ya Got Backpacking Loop - Linville Gorge
This 20+ mile backpacking route in North Carolina's Linville Gorge Wilderness tests the adventurer at every turn. Strenuous climbs, rocky descents, unofficial trails, treacherous river crossings and more await. Is That All Ya Got?
Map: Spence Ridge Trail, Linville Gorge Trail, Leadmine Trail, Mountains-to-Sea Trail : Pisgah National Forest
Linville Gorge detailed trail map available here.
Caltopo map available here.
Trail Guide: Is That All Ya Got Loop - Spence Ridge Trailhead - Pisgah National Forest
The ITAYG Loop can be started from any access point along its length but it is typically advisable to tackle the Spence Ridge river crossing before the MST crossing. That is to prevent getting stuck on the opposite side of the river as your vehicle. We started this 3-day trip at the Spence Ridge Trailhead.
The hike begins gently along the Spence Ridge Trail before descending sharply to the bottom of the Linville Gorge. The roar of the Linville River is heard long before reaching its rocky banks. The remains of a bridge that was washed away in 2013 can be seen at the crossing area. Scout around for an ideal spot to ford, it is generally considered safe at a Linville River cfs of 150 - conditions can vary and you'll have to make your own decision on what feels safe at the crossing. After crossing there are a plethora of beautiful campsites along the Linville Gorge Trail.
Day 2 continues along the Linville Gorge Trail following the Linville River until it connects with the Leadmine Trail. At the time of this trip Leadmine was an unofficial trail but will be officially maintained by the Forest Service starting in 2021. Leadmine cuts steeply away from the river and dives up and down several ridges before ending at the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Following along the MST brings the second crossing of the Linville River. Shallower but wider than the crossing at Spence Ridge, the MST crossing is generally considered safe at a Linville River cfs of 200. The trail then shoots away from the river as it climbs Shortoff Mountain towards some of the best views of the trip. There are plentiful campsites along the Shortoff Ridge to pick from.
The Chimneys and Table Rock are highlights to look forward to on the final day. No adventure in the Gorge is complete without a bit of scrambling and there are areas along the Chimneys that add a dash of mild adventure. Table Rock is one of the most breathtaking views in the Southeast, with the rugged chasm of the Linville Gorge spread out in a feast for the eyes. The Table Rock Gap Trail finishes off the ITAYG Loop back to the Spence Ridge Trailhead.