Updated: July 2019
Breathtaking Panoramic Views
Situated on around 1,000 acres of land, Chimney Rock Park with Hickory Nut Falls is part of the larger 5,700-acre Chimney Rock State Park. Chimney Rock Park is one of two areas open to the public with the second area being Rumbling Bald Climbing Access – a rock climber’s dream.
If the weather is good, you may want to head up to the top of Chimney Rock, a 315-foot (96m) granite monolith, and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge.
Depending on your available time, the park offers several amazing trails, such as The Outcroppings. Although this trail is only 0.5 miles long, it sports a network of stairs - 499 to be exact - and boardwalks to and from the Chimney level. The trail is also nicknamed the “Ultimate Stairmaster” because of its 499 stairs going up 26 stories high to the top of to the Chimney. If you are not up to the “workout”, there is also an elevator as an alternative. Please call ahead to make sure that the lift is in operation. The trail also leads you along the Grotto and through the Subway.
Lake Lure’s Little Secret
Did you know that Lake Lure is not a natural lake and did not exist before 1925? Dr. Lucius Morse envisioned a resort like setting for this picturesque landscape with hotels, polo fields and other recreational facilities to be built around a lake. However, there was no lake at the time. In 1925, the Morse family founded the Carolina Mountain Power Company, which funded the construction of a dam on the Rocky Broad River in part to provide electricity to the resort and also as a source of income. In 1927, Lake Lure was completed. Underneath its calm water still lies the old Town of Buffalo.
At normal water levels, Lake Lure covers around 720 acres (2.9 km²) and has a shoreline of about 27 miles (43 km). The electric power plant at the dam started operation in 1928 and sold its electricity to the Blue Ridge Power Company, which was the predecessor company of Duke Power. However, the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression led to the foreclosure of the dam, the electric power company, and the lake. Only later in 1965, the Town of Lake Lure acquired the dam, the electric power company and the real estate of Lake Lure. Until this day, the Town sells the electricity to Duke Energy. The Town also ensures a fixed water level to allow recreational use of the lake, which has become very important for its economy.
Before Heading Back Down
After a good workout climbing all those stairs, we took a rest on the Sky Lounge’s terrace, which offers outdoor seating and a fantastic view.
For those, who took the elevator up, your first up-close glimpse of Chimney Rock is as you exit the Sky Lounge.
There are several more hiking trails to explore throughout the park. For those, who wish to visit the park more frequently, an annual pass is also available.
Hickory Nut Falls
If you have the time and some energy left, you may want to take the 176-step staircase down to the Hickory Nut Falls Trail. This popular ¾-mile trail leads along rhododendron bushes to the bottom of Hickory Nut Falls, a 404-foot (123-meter) high waterfall, ranking second of its type east of the Mississippi River.
November to March:
Mon., Tue., Fri. to Sun.: 10am to 4:30pm
April to October:
Mon. to Sun.: 8:30am to 5:30pm
All year, weather permitting.
Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
Children (5-15): $8
Children (4 and younger): free
In the park.
As some trails are strenuous you may want to choose easier trails with smaller children. Take plenty of water to drink.
Picnic tables are placed throughout the park.
The trails are not accessible with a stroller. Kid carrier backpacks can be rented for $8 a day.
The trails are not accessible with a wheelchair.
Crafts, such as pottery and wood-carvings, can be purchased at the Cliff Dwellers or at the Sky Lounge.
Snacks and drinks can be purchased at the Sky Lounge.
Restrooms are located in the Sky Lounge, at the upper parking lot or at the Meadows.