After our day long “Chasin Waterfalls” adventure we set our sites on Chimney Rock State Park. Our goal for the day was to see God’s beauty and walk a lot…and boy did we ever! The cost to get into the park is $17 per adult and $8 for ages 5-15. There is a one day family pass (ONLINE ONLY) that is $45 for 2 adults and 3 kids aged 5-15. Hours of operation various by season, so make sure you check their web site before going. If we could do it all over again…we would arrive after 4 pm. For two reasons….#1 – After we had hiked the longest trail (more on that later) and we returned to the main area, hardly anyone was there. I would not say it was overly crowded before, but there was a significant difference in attendance. #2 – When you purchase after 4 pm your ticket is good for the next day as well. Go early the next morning and you will avoid the crowd and ensure going during the coolest part of the day. Unless of course, you are going during the colder months and want/need the warmest part of the day. We went during the month of April and was fortunate to have warmer than seasonal averages.
We took in one more waterfall before heading to the top of Chimney Rock. This short walk (I would NOT call this a hike) out to Hickory Nut Falls was pleasant as most of the trail is in the shade. The trail is well maintained and you will pass plenty of people coming and going. The waterfall has a good observation deck. After our “chasin’ waterfall” day the day before, this waterfall wasn’t as impressive. Now don’t get me wrong…totally worth the short walk to the falls! Here is the link at all the trails.
State Park Officials state this: We do not consider any of our trails to be wheelchair or stroller accessible, and we recommend carrying small children who cannot hike the trails in packs. If you do not have access to one, you can find them for rent in Cliff Dwellers Gifts at the base of Chimney Rock where the main parking area is located.
After our “hike” to the lower part of the falls we drove up to the upper parking lot and headed up to the Cliff Dwellers. The view from there is amazing of the mountains and Lake Lure, but that is just a taste! There are a couple of different ways to the “top of the rock” and we decided to take the longest route with the most steps….dang that is a lot of steps….but, hey…got to stay in shape somehow. Being over 50 years old, that is a daily challenge (another blog topic for a later time!). There is an elevator to “almost” the top. You still have to navigate to the top of Chimney Rock after taking the elevator to the gift shop and small eatery. If you are in poor health, the climb to the very top might be pushing it a bit. There are still many steps to climb after getting off the elevator. Even if you stop at that level, the views are magnificent!
The reward for making it to the top is worth the challenge of the climb. Just take your time and you will get there. There are plenty to places to view the area even before getting to the top!
We were almost to the top when we were lucky to catch a C-130 military aircraft flying by. I love aircraft, so this was a real treat for me. Totally random!
The view from the top is amazing to say the least. I grew up in Blowing Rock, NC and love the mountains. I could have stayed and looked out over the mountains and Lake Lure for hours! It just brings me peace. The beach and ocean bring peace to Diane, for me, it is the mountains….not that i mind the beach though!!!! The views from the top is well worth climbing all those steps!
If you choose to, you can go even higher and get a view from behind Chimney Rock. We continued on to the trails up and further beyond Chimney Rock. The Skyline Trail leads all the way to the top of Hickory Nut Falls. The walk is more like a hike. Not that stenous, but for those of a decent fitness level. We walked the trail during the hottest part of the day and it was a challenge.
If you are into hiking, see amazing views, and love the mountains…then Chimney Rock is well worth the visit. If you have small children or middle schoolers for that matter, I wouldn’t bring them along. Unless you have adventurous kids that love to be active. Other wise…good luck. Once they are tired, the day will not be fun! We saw a lot of folks with their dogs…poor dogs…looked like they were dying. Not sure I would put my dog through that much physical activity unless they were used to it. There is plenty of water for dogs, but still. Anyway. I would recommend a trip to Chimney Rock and visit Lake Lure too. It is not far at all from the entrance to Chimney Rock and the small town there looks inviting. We didn’t have time to spend so I can’t comment about the town. There was plenty of places to stay over night, but I bet during the peak season it would be a challenge to find anything available.
One other stop I found interesting to tell you about before I go. Well, Diane did more than I, but it is a cool idea! The state had replaced an old bridge heading into Lake Lure and instead of destroying the bridge the locals turned the old bridge into a community flower garden. It is neat and if you are into plants, and rocks, and things…sorry…if you are into flowers and such…this is great addition to your trip…and it is FREE! Leave a donation if you want to help out.
Our time was up as we wanted to make our way to Mount Mitchell (look for that blog post too) before darkness set in. This was a great day…relaxing, physically challenging but not too much, and simply beautiful. If you haven’t visited Chimney Rock, you should at least schedule a day trip. North Carolina is a beautiful state I am glad to call it my home!