Since I had to head down towards Hickory Saturday morning for a meeting, I decided to head down and do some recon on some of the trails in the gorge that we will be running for the Linville Gorge Madness Marathon. Matt Kirk decided that he would like to join me on this adventure since it was practically 10 minutes from his home in Marion. We decided to meet up at the trail head of the Overmountain Victory Trail to start our run. Matt would run 13 miles via the MST to the meet up, I would drive to the start instead.
I met Matt and Uwharrie around 2 pm and we headed on up the trail. The ascent up the OVT had two open fields with excellent views of the Black Mountains to the West. We soon hit Kistler Memorial Hwy for a mile of gravel road running to the entrance of the Pinchin Trail, which would be our route into the gorge. I had never been on this trail until today, but have noticed it from Shortoff numerous times and couldn't wait to descend it's burnt out surface with expansive views. This trail was everything I thought it would be and more. It was beautiful!
We were soon at the river and it was time to take the Linville trail and a blue blazed side "trail" to the MST to ascend up to Pinnacle. This section of trail was slow considering all the blow downs, lack of knowledge in trail construction (blue blazed trail), and super steep ascents (60% at some points)! It was almost a relief when we got to the MST, but then we were faced with a 1100' 1 mile ascent up to Pinnacle. The climbing of this run was starting to take its toll. Although tough, this trail was a beauty too and the views from the top of Pinnacle were awesome.
After soaking in the landscape, Matt and I made our descent back to the car down the OVT. We got back to the fields right as the sun was setting behind the Blacks and were able to get some good sunset shots before we ended the day a mile below. My knee started to hurt on the descent and I had to slow down my pace just in case something bad might happen. It seemed fine after the run, but it was a bit sore today. Matt and Lily had me over for some dinner and good conversation afterward. It was a great end to a great day. Enjoy this little vid I put together of this run and see some of the beauty for yourself. Here is the Garmin data: Linville Gorge w/ Grand Kirk