Chimney Rock, North Carolina

Chimney RockOn the day before Thanksgiving I found myself in Asheville, North Carolina.  While there I wanted to visit a spot that I had not been to since I was a child, Chimney Rock.  The park offers several hiking trails with two of the most popular being the trail to Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Falls Trail.  Some of you may remember Hickory Nut falls as it was the final fight scene between Chingachgook and Magua in Last of the Mohicans.  As a child we were able to hike to the top of the falls and even swim in the pool but (according to a guide) since the state had purchased the park they shut that trail down to make improvements but had not completed them yet.  There is a fee to enter the park which is unique but not too high with adults being charged $14.00 and kids (6-15) being charged $6.00.  On the trails we saw several dogs on leashes but the dogs are not allowed on the elevator that takes you straight to Chimney Rock.  For more info on the park check out the park’s site at http://www.chimneyrockpark.com/index.php. 

The first trail that we took is called the Outcroppings trail and is the alternate route to the top.  The other route is the 26 story elevator ride but taking the outcropping trail is rewarding in the fact that it has great views on the way to top and gives a great workout as it is called by the website as the ultimate StairMaster!  Once you’ve reached the top you will be at Chimney Rock which is about 2,280 ft above sea level and offers great views of Lake Lure in the valley below.  This trail is rated moderate to strenuous but definitely seemed more to the strenuous side as the trail was mostly stairs.  After that we took the  Skyline trail which lead to the Exclamation point which is the highest point in the park at 2,480 feet above sea level and again offers some amazing views of the valley below.  Both of these trails were about 1.2 miles round trip but definitely offer a physical challenge.

The next trail was the Hickory Nut Falls trail which is a moderate 1.5 mile round trip to the base of the falls.  This trail was a nice walk to the base with several places to stop and take picturesHickory Nut Falls or rest along the way.  At the base of the falls we were able to climb out and play around in the water at the base but that was only because the area had been so dry recently.  A guide at the base told us that they also offer private hikes (if you’re willing to pay $25-$100) that take you places in the park that is off limits to the public.

This park offered some great views and great experiences that will last in memory for a long time.  I believe that this park is a can’t miss for anyone that enjoys that outdoors and is in the Asheville area.  Please post any pictures of the park or comments about experiences or questions you have and as always happy hiking:)

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