Gauge Description:

The hurricane related floods of 2004 and 2005 significantly changed the gauge! On Sept 4, 2004 Linville peaked at 42,400 cfs. This flood made for significant changes in the streambed.

Here is a correlation with the old gauge levels. Preflood 1.5' is now abut 1.65' The preflood 2.0' (the point where the run starts to get pushy...and many paddlers go elsewhere) is now about 2.2'. These are still appoximations until more runs at more levels are made. At the minimal level, the last few miles of flatwater is very shallow and tedious. Many boaters recommend that the Conley Cove to the Lake stretch (Lower Linville) is much more enjoyable if the level is at least 2.05' (This is comparable to the old 1.7-1.8').

The gauge for the Linville River is located on river right, at the takeout just upstream of the Hwy 126 bridge across the river.

Prior to the 2004 Hurricane season, the Linville gauge was stable for a number of years. However, this powerful storm system caused massive flooding and changes to the gauge and rapids. Since the big flood event, several smaller settling events have occurred in the river, which in turn have been affecting the streambed shape at the gauge location. The new flow to stage correlation the USGS conducted after the record high flows has already become inaccurate again. Here is a breakdown of runnable levels:

1.75 -1.9 feet - enough water to get down, but a few mandatory hits and pinny rapids.

1.9 - 2.1 feet - the low end of this range is a decent low level and the upper end is getting well into the medium-low range. Some may find anything above 2.1 to not be ideal for first time trips.

2.1 - 2.3 - In the lower end of this range the river is at a nice medium level and at the upper end, the run enters the medium-high classification. If continuing on the lower to the lake, or running the lower by itself, 2.2 is a good minimum to do this. The river is much less channelized on the lower, hence the higher minimum.

2.3-2.5 - This flow range is high. It is a doable level but the holes are big and the rapids start pushing into each other.

2.5 and up is high water Linville and the run becomes serious class 5-5+ only to be tried by the most competent teams of advanced boaters. At these levels the Linville Gorge could easily be considered the hardest run anywhere to be found in the southeast.


Keep in mind that the gauge is located at the takeout, so it is reading what the water was doing at the Falls around 6-10 hours earlier. If the water table is not charged and the rivers have been dry lately the run will feel lower than the reading. But with a good base flow and frequent rains, this run has sufficient flows often for even weeks to months at a time. There are many occasions where Linville is the only class 5 running in the area. The watershed measures in at 45 square miles, and its flat up top. These characteristics create a river environment that supports frequent boatability during rainy seasons/events.

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-02138500 1.70 - 2.70 ft V 00h33m 1.01 ft (too low)

gauge graph
RangeWater LevelDifficultyComment
1.70 -2.70 ft barely runnable-high runnable V gauge is important or has warning

Reports give the public a chance to report on river conditions throughout the country as well as log the history of a river.

When River/Gauge Subject Level Reporter
Linville [NC] What a gorge! Running Doug Smith
Linville [NC] linville 425cfs or 2.3\' Chris Roberts
Linville [NC] Babel Tower n/a Chris Roberts
Linville [NC] 39536.jpeg low Chris Roberts
Linville [NC] Jailhouse prior to the rock shift old 1.6 Kirk Eddlemon
Linville [NC] Babel Tower 1.65 Kirk Eddlemon
[NC] Alex Zendel on Cathedral 1.65 Kirk Eddlemon
Linville [NC] Some narr in Linville ? Alex Harvey
Linville [NC] n/a Philip Malatin
5y198d19h52m /Linville-Linville Falls to Lake James [NC] Dennis Huntley at The Wall rapid, Linville 2.00 ft Dennis Huntley
6y121d00h46m /Linville-Linville Falls to Lake James [NC] Matt in Welcome to Bob's World 2.20 ft Clinton Koontz
6y122d03h07m /Linville-Linville Falls to Lake James [NC] Launch time! 2.20 ft Clinton Koontz
6y122d03h14m /Linville-Linville Falls to Lake James [NC] Entering Dr Shoosh 2.20 ft Clinton Koontz
> 10 years Linville River [NC] Scary Boof aka China 1.65 Kirk Eddlemon
> 10 years Linville [NC] No scout, no portage 2.05 Philip Malatin
> 10 years Linville [NC] Linville Gorge 2.1' Chris Roberts
> 10 years Linville [NC] Twist and Shout 1.75 Philip Malatin
> 10 years Linville [NC] The Spout 1.75 ft Philip Malatin
> 10 years Linville [NC] Linville Falls n/a Chris Kiehl
> 10 years Linville [NC] Cathedral Falls 1996 1.9 ft Jerry Jascomb