CHIMNEY ROCK STATE PARK, 431 MAIN STREET CHIMNEY ROCK, NC 28720
Fabulous views, a giant 404 foot waterfall and 6 spectacular hikes are waiting for you at Chimney Rock State Park.
As an Asheville local, I have been hearing about Chimney Rock State Park for many, many years. I am ashamed to say that I fell into the trap of viewing the park as a tourist attraction. After all, with so much free hiking in every direction, why would a local pay to get in? Because, the park is utterly awesome, that's why! After just one visit...
I completely understand why locals love Chimney Rock!
In fact, I intend to buy a season pass which allows you to visit the park as many times as you like. Aside, from climbing to the top of Chimney Rock, there are 5 different hiking trails in the park all with varying degrees of difficulty. One trail even has an amazing waterfall!
1. Climbing the Rock.
If you like stair climbing, you are in luck. From the parking lot to the top of the rock, you will climb 500 stairs. WOW! What a great workout. After applying some advanced math
skills, that translates to 41 flights. The stairs have strategically placed, spacious landings where you can rest and catch your breath. Athletes routinely run up the stairs for maximum conditioning. I am confident that Landdis, our park guide, runs them routinely. As for myself and my hiking partner Chef Krueger, we took it slowly with plenty of stops along the way. For those of you who want a 32 second ride to the top, the elevator is a perfect choice. The elevator was originally built in the late 1940's. They had to blast a 198 foot tunnel horizontally through the solid granite to create a place for the elevator. They then had to blast a 258 foot elevator shaft all the way to the top of the rock.
This amazing feat that took 18 months and 8 tons of dynamite. Way to go!The tunnel all by itself, really is a thing of beauty, and the rich history displayed down its walls creates its own attraction. So, you may ask, is the struggle to the top worth it?
The incredible views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure and the Carolina Piedmont will blow you away! On a clear day, you can see for 75 miles. Even the view from the parking lot is worth the trip in.
2. The Views.
FROM THE TOP OF ROCK
As you can see, the view from up here is well worth the 500 steps. This was my Rocky Balboa moment. From the top of the rock you can access 2 more trails. The Exclamation Point trail is a 20 minute hike that takes you to the highest peak in the Park, Exclamation Point, at 2,480 feet. The Skyline trail starts at Exclamation Point. It is a 1.1 mile hike that meanders through the woods with sheer cliffs and fantastic views and culminates at the head waters of the 404 foot Hickory Nut Falls. This is first on my list for my next visit. For the purposes of this trip we hiked back down the rock to the Hickory Nut Falls trail.
3. Hickory Nut Falls Trail.
After our vertical hike up and down the rock, Landdis took us on a leisurely 3/4 mile hike to Hickory Nut Falls. This giant 404 foot tall beauty took my breath away! The waterfall has a special claim to fame. It was featured in the movie "Last of the Mohicans".
HICKORY NUT FALLS
Stunning, isn't it? My first thought was, "What and amazing place to get married." followed by the question, "How much?". Turns out that a permit, which includes a guide, for bride and groom plus 5 guests can be had for a ridiculously affordable rate. You can definitely have more guests and the price will increase accordingly. One of the best choices for an outdoor wedding! The bride and groom will sometimes get married on these flat rocks at the bottom of the falls. According to Landdis, brides have been known to walk in with their bridesmaids hiking up their massive dresses for ventilation. Maybe a nice simple gown?
BOTTOM OF HICKORY NUT FALLS
Our fabulous tour guide, Landdis Hollifield, allowed us to move at our own pace. Up and down the rock and on our way to the falls, she pointed out special places and told us interesting stories about Chimney Rock enthusiasts. Everything from romantic wedding stories to feats of endurance.
Along our hike to the falls we noticed beautiful flowers, even in early spring. Landdis informed up that Chimney Rock State Park has 36 rare plants and 14 rare animals. We did not see any wild animals this trip but we did see birds of prey.
4. Rescued Birds of Prey and Other Creatures.
EMILY WITH A RESCUED OWL.
In the afternoon at 2pm, the park shows off their array of rescued animals including some birds of prey like this owl. The most interesting take away from this amazing experience was this tidbit of information:
A great many of the rescued wildlife adopted by Chimney Rock State Park were hit by cars.
They are on the road scavenging for food thrown from cars! I don't know about you, but growing up, I was trained to throw biodegradable food out the window. After this experience, I have put a stop to that! Animal programs are offered daily at 2pm from June through August and on Holiday weekends.
All and all, I give the experience a hearty thumbs-up and a five-star rating!
A Note from the Holiday Inn Biltmore East
We are very pleased to have you as our guest at the Holiday Inn Biltmore East. When you get back to the hotel please let us know how your day went. Our front desk personnel and our restaurant staff look forward to seeing you. We are available to answer your questions and make recommendations. See you Soon!