NC rescuers warn about difficult hiking trail to ‘magical’ wild daffodil field

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. — Around this time every year, thousands of people hike in the North Carolina High Country to see a wild daffodil field.

But getting to the spot in the Linville Gorge is challenging for non-experienced hikers. Burke County Rescue has a warning for anyone planning to take the trail.

Channel 9’s Dave Faherty did it himself Friday and found that one of the biggest challenges of the hike is the elevation change of nearly 1,700 feet.

There are hundreds of daffodils that bloom in late winter next to the Linville River. When Faherty arrived around 9:30 a.m. Friday, the parking area near the trailhead was already filled with cars.

Christina Masterson and her friend set out for the 5-plus-mile round trip hike.

“It’s like an enchanted forest. Something that’s indescribable -- it’s magical, it’s beautiful,” she said. “It’s something you’ve never seen before.”

Jennifer Love also got there very early hoping to beat the crowds hiking down the Mountain to Sea trail on the west side of the Gorge. She’s a long-distance runner but says the hike there is a workout.

“I’m a marathon runner and I would say that for the average person, it’s going to be quite a difficult climb back up,” she said.

Along the trail Friday, Kevin Massey was volunteering with the group Wild South working to improve one of four different trails that lead to the flowers. He said it’s important to bring plenty of water, food, and clothing anytime you head into the Gorge. He said just Thursday, a hiker fell feet from where he was working.

“A woman came through and she fell right off the cliff. We thought she had stumbled,” he said. “Eventually it came out that she hadn’t had enough to eat.”

Faherty could see first responders Friday afternoon heading into the Gorge for a hiker who became sick. Christina Masterson says it happened to her two years ago while hiking the rugged trail not far from Daffodil Flat.

“My body went into shock,” she said. “It was a hot summer day coming up Pinch In and two doctors here helped me out.”

Faherty found that the hike out is the toughest part -- one person described it as getting on a StairMaster for an hour and a half and not stopping. It took him an hour to hike in but about two to hike out.

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