Following in the Footsteps of "The Last of the Mohicans"!
Chimney Rock Travel Blog› entry 16 of 36 › view all entries
August 9th, 2006 – by: TRE69
From our accommodations east of Asheville, we took I-40 west towards Asheville, then continued on to Exit 53A to join up with US-74A eastbound towards Blue Ridge Parkway/Bat Cave. US-74 later combined with NC-9 and US-64 into one highway.
To get to the park entrance we drove on a short wooden bridge over the Rocky Broad River.
We got to Chimney Rock Park just as it opened. The adult entrance fee was $14. From the drive-thru ticket plaza, it was about a 3 mile drive to the upper parking lot. The morning air was cool and fortunately the humidity was very low. I parked the car behind some trees, hoping their shade will keep my car cool as the sun reached its full intensity. As soon as we got out of the car, my cousin and I douse ourselves with bug repellent...yuck! I have really sensitive skin...and so far OFF! seems to be a brand that doesn't irritate...now if I can only find sunblock or sunscreen that won't give me hives! From the upper parking lot we got a great view of Chimney Rock from the bottom up. The views of Chimney Rock is accessible to EVERYONE! You can take the elevator shaft, which was sand-blasted through solid granite, up 26 stories to the top.
The Outcroppings Trail is a moderate to strenuous trail with two ways up: a direct way via Stairway To Chimney (which is actually a network of stairs and boardwalks) or through the Needle's Eye. We took the Needle's Eye route which is a 185 step narrow staircase between Rock Pile and Pulpit Rock. A section of the trail called the Subway had low clearance so we had to hunch over to make our way through.
From Chimney Rock we made our way upwards via the Skyline Trail. The Skyline Trail is a moderate to strenuous trail made up of wooden staircases linking wooden boardwalks that hug and cling to the side of the mountain. Along the Skyline Trail is the Opera Box...a rock ledge covered by a rock overhang with views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure (where Dirty Dancing was filmed). Further ahead on the trail is Devil's Head.
From the top of Hickory Nut Falls we joined the Cliff Trail which, as its name suggests, was a trail of cliffs and ledges. Parts of the trail have wooden guard rails and fencing while portions of the trail are not cordoned off. From the top, the next point of interest was Inspiration Point with great views of Hickory Nut Falls and Lake Lure. Along the trail were interesting rock formations and multi-colored rock faces. At one point along the trail, near the Groundhog Slide, there was no fencing or guardrail so we were able to get close to the edge. I made damn sure that I had a hand grip on a solid rock! Further along the the Cliff Trail we passed through a narrow passage called Wildcat Trap.
We decided to take the Stairway To Chimney part of the trail back down to the upper parking lot level. Still amped up from our hike up to the top of the falls, we decided to see the bottom of it. Just past the Moonshiner's Cave along the Outcroppings Trail was a series of staircases and boardwalks that led us down to the Hickory Nut Falls Trail. The Hickory Nut Falls Trail is a moderate, tree-lined trail that shaded us from the late morning sun. Some sections of the trail were hilly but we pushed onward. Before getting to the bottom of the falls we stopped at a lunch table to take photos and to eat a snack...chocolate covered Balance Bars...MMM! At the base of 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls, you can hear the force generated by the falling water against the rocks. I was amazed that just a few hours before, we were at the top!
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