Chimney Rock State Park

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.


Map of Chimney Rock State Park

When you arrive at the parking area of  Chimney Rock Park , you are greeted by the mighty  Chimney Rock  towering high above the granite cliff.

When you arrive at the parking area of Chimney Rock Park, you are greeted by the mighty Chimney Rock towering high above the granite cliff.

The  Cliff Dwellers  is a gift shop, and to its left is a 198-foot tunnel leading to the lift that brings you to the  Sky Lounge . The 26-story elevator shaft was blasted through solid rock. You can also take the  Outcroppings Trail , which starts passed the gift shop and leads to the top of  Chimney Rock  through a network of stairs. Should you prefer to take the elevator, please call ahead to confirm that it is operational during your planned visit.

The Cliff Dwellers is a gift shop, and to its left is a 198-foot tunnel leading to the lift that brings you to the Sky Lounge. The 26-story elevator shaft was blasted through solid rock. You can also take the Outcroppings Trail, which starts passed the gift shop and leads to the top of Chimney Rock through a network of stairs. Should you prefer to take the elevator, please call ahead to confirm that it is operational during your planned visit.

The Outcroppings

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.

The  Outcroppings Trail  is also nicknamed the  Ultimate Stairmaster  due to its 499 stairs climbing up 26 stories to the top of the Chimney.

The Outcroppings Trail is also nicknamed the Ultimate Stairmaster due to its 499 stairs climbing up 26 stories to the top of the Chimney.

At the first fork up the staircase, the path to your right leads to the  Grotto , from where you can take a shortcut through the  Subway  around  Pulpit Rock .

At the first fork up the staircase, the path to your right leads to the Grotto, from where you can take a shortcut through the Subway around Pulpit Rock.

When you reach the  Grotto , enjoy the serene view of  Lake Lure ,  Hickory Nut Gorge  and  Chimney Rock Village  below. The scenery is particularly beautiful in the morning.

When you reach the Grotto, enjoy the serene view of Lake Lure, Hickory Nut Gorge and Chimney Rock Village below. The scenery is particularly beautiful in the morning.

Continuing your hike up on the  Ultimate Stairmaster , you can take a brief stop on one of the many landings as an opportunity to not only catch your breath but also to turn around and enjoy the stunning scenery. Here a view of  Pulpit Rock  below.

Continuing your hike up on the Ultimate Stairmaster, you can take a brief stop on one of the many landings as an opportunity to not only catch your breath but also to turn around and enjoy the stunning scenery. Here a view of Pulpit Rock below.

Almost there! On the last stretch, the trail takes you beneath towering magnificent granite cliffs that were formed 535 million years ago.

Almost there! On the last stretch, the trail takes you beneath towering magnificent granite cliffs that were formed 535 million years ago.

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.

The last few steps to the top of  Chimney Rock . Once there, you have not only conquered the 499 steps but also have reached an elevation of 2,280 feet (695 meters), from where you can enjoy incredible views.

The last few steps to the top of Chimney Rock. Once there, you have not only conquered the 499 steps but also have reached an elevation of 2,280 feet (695 meters), from where you can enjoy incredible views.

Chimney Rock Village  looks really tiny from here.

Chimney Rock Village looks really tiny from here.

Behind  Chimney Rock  is the famous  Opera Box  covered by an imposing rock overhang. The staircase to the left is part of the  Exclamation Point Trail , which connects to the  Skyline Trail .

Behind Chimney Rock is the famous Opera Box covered by an imposing rock overhang. The staircase to the left is part of the Exclamation Point Trail, which connects to the Skyline Trail.

The  Opera Box  has a narrow horizontal opening that offers a unique view of  Chimney Rock  with  Lake Lure  as a backdrop.  Lake Lure  is a manmade lake that 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. To provide electricity to the resort and as a source of income, the Morse family founded  Carolina Mountain Power Company  in 1925, which funded the construction of a dam on the  Rocky Broad River . In 1927, Lake Lure was completed. Underneath its calm water still lies the old Town of Buffalo.

The Opera Box has a narrow horizontal opening that offers a unique view of Chimney Rock with Lake Lure as a backdrop. Lake Lure is a manmade lake that 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. To provide electricity to the resort and as a source of income, the Morse family founded Carolina Mountain Power Company in 1925, which funded the construction of a dam on the Rocky Broad River. In 1927, Lake Lure was completed. Underneath its calm water still lies the old Town of Buffalo.


 

Send a lovely Greeting Card with a real photograph of Chimney Rock

All Greeting Cards are handmade by us in the U.S.A.

 

If you continue on the  Exclamation Point Trail  passed the  Opera Box  for another 20 minutes, you reach  Exclamation Point , which at 2,480 feet (756 meters) is the highest peak in the park. We had finally made this moderate-to-strenuous hike on a gorgeous spring day, which rewarded us with more incredible views. On the right of the panorama is  Shumont Mountain  (3,816 feet - 1,163 meters) with  Cedar Knob  (3,333 feet - 1,016 meters) situated to the left.

If you continue on the Exclamation Point Trail passed the Opera Box for another 20 minutes, you reach Exclamation Point, which at 2,480 feet (756 meters) is the highest peak in the park. We had finally made this moderate-to-strenuous hike on a gorgeous spring day, which rewarded us with more incredible views. On the right of the panorama is Shumont Mountain (3,816 feet - 1,163 meters) with Cedar Knob (3,333 feet - 1,016 meters) situated to the left.

From  Exclamation Point  you can enjoy another beautiful view of  Lake Lure .

From Exclamation Point you can enjoy another beautiful view of Lake Lure.

On your way down from  Exclamation Point , you can stop at a small lookout and admire this oddly shaped head - the Devil’s Head. I took this picture on a beautiful morning in July.

On your way down from Exclamation Point, you can stop at a small lookout and admire this oddly shaped head - the Devil’s Head. I took this picture on a beautiful morning in July.


The  Exclamation Point Trail  connects to the  Skyline Trail  at Exclamation Point. The moderate-to-strenuous  Skyline Trail  meanders through the forest on its way to the  Upper Hickory Nut Falls . After 1 mile you reach  Falls Creek , which you need to cross to get to the viewing platform of  Upper Hickory Nut Falls .

The Exclamation Point Trail connects to the Skyline Trail at Exclamation Point. The moderate-to-strenuous Skyline Trail meanders through the forest on its way to the Upper Hickory Nut Falls. After 1 mile you reach Falls Creek, which you need to cross to get to the viewing platform of Upper Hickory Nut Falls.

The  Skyline Trail  ends at the viewing platform (elevation 2,590 feet -789 meters). The platform offers scenic views of  Hickory Nut Gorge  and  Falls Creek , whose 404-foot plunge begins here.

The Skyline Trail ends at the viewing platform (elevation 2,590 feet -789 meters). The platform offers scenic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Falls Creek, whose 404-foot plunge begins here.


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.

While taking a rest on the terrace of the  Sky Lounge , you can enjoy picture-perfect afternoon views of  Chimney Rock . For those, who took the elevator up, this would be the first up-close glimpse of  Chimney Rock  as you exit the Sky Lounge.

While taking a rest on the terrace of the Sky Lounge, you can enjoy picture-perfect afternoon views of Chimney Rock. For those, who took the elevator up, this would be the first up-close glimpse of Chimney Rock as you exit the Sky Lounge.

On your way down, there are many beautiful spots to savor. Below to the left is  Vista Rock .

On your way down, there are many beautiful spots to savor. Below to the left is Vista Rock.

Vista Rock , located just below  Chimney Rock , offers another lovely scenic setting through its tree canopy. There are several more trails to explore throughout the park. For those, who wish to visit the park more frequently, an annual pass is also available.

Vista Rock, located just below Chimney Rock, offers another lovely scenic setting through its tree canopy. There are several more 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.

Especially after a couple of days of rain, the thundering  Hickory Nut Falls  is an impressive sight even from a distance. To get closer to the 404-foot (123 meters) waterfall, follow the path with the stone steps.

Especially after a couple of days of rain, the thundering Hickory Nut Falls is an impressive sight even from a distance. To get closer to the 404-foot (123 meters) waterfall, follow the path with the stone steps.

Flanked by towering cliffs to the left, the trail opens up a bit giving view to  Hickory Nut Falls .

Flanked by towering cliffs to the left, the trail opens up a bit giving view to Hickory Nut Falls.

As the viewing platform is almost below  Hickory Nut Falls , it offers a dramatic perspective looking up the falls, while feeling the refreshing cooling mist from the water on a hot day.

As the viewing platform is almost below Hickory Nut Falls, it offers a dramatic perspective looking up the falls, while feeling the refreshing cooling mist from the water on a hot day.

The viewing platform at  Hickory Nut Falls  also allows you to peek through the tree-canopy at the 3,816-foot (1,163 meters)  Shumont Mountain  on the other side of the valley.

The viewing platform at Hickory Nut Falls also allows you to peek through the tree-canopy at the 3,816-foot (1,163 meters) Shumont Mountain on the other side of the valley.



431 Main Street, Chimney Rock, NC 28720
Tel.: → (800) 277 9611

 
 
 

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


Adults: $17

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.