Following in the Footsteps of "The Last of the Mohicans"!

Chimney Rock Travel Blog

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Chimney Rock
First on the list of outdoor adventures was visiting Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock Park.  Chimney Rock Park was the backdrop for the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe.  My cousin and I both loved this movie because of the stunning scenery so we wanted to see it for ourselves.  So we set off just after the crack of dawn to get to Chimney Rock.  

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.
Yup...we are climbing that!


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.
Oh no...the crawl space is caving in
  While the actual Chimney Rock is not wheel-chair accessible, the views from the top are spectacular.  The other option to get to Chimney Rock was to take the Outcroppings Trail.  We decided on the latter because my cousin wanted to get a workout (especially after eating all the Southern fried food at Auntie Mary's house) and because I needed more exercise...HAHAHA!  

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.
The Outcroppings Trail
  A wooden bridge connects Rock Pile and Pulpit Rock at the top.  Somehow we made our way to Stairway To Chimney part of the Outcroppings Trail and made it to the top of Chimney Rock.  The top of Chimney Rock is 2280 feet above sea level and gave us gorgeous views of Hickory Nut Gorge and the surrounding areas.    

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.
On top of Chimney Rock
..a rock formation resembling the image of a...you guessed...a devil.  Higher up on the trail is a Rain Shelter which we used to take a little break and to bask in the beauty of nature.  The highest point in the park is Exclamation Point at 2480 feet.  EUREKA...its all down hill from here!  On our way down we took a photo op stop at Peregrine's Rest for a bird's eye view of Hickory Nut Falls and Hickory Nut Gorge.   Awaiting us at the end of the Skyline Trail are the pools above Hickory Nut Falls.  We decided to take a long break at the pools.  We took off our sweaty shoes and socks and dipped our tired and aching feet into the crystal clear but freezing cold water.  After the initial cold shock, we waded through the, at certain places, thigh-high pools, lounged on the cool rocks, and listened to the breeze rustling the leaves and the sound of trickling water.
Top of Chimney rock...camera timer test
..it was very serene and calming.  

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.
Chimney Rock top
  The Cliff Trail finally ended where it meets the Outcroppings Trail near Needle's Eye.  

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!  

vances says:
Great introduction..adding this to my list!
Posted on: Jun 03, 2008
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Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock
Yup...we are climbing that!
Yup...we are climbing that!
Oh no...the crawl space is caving …
Oh no...the crawl space is caving…
The Outcroppings Trail
The Outcroppings Trail
On top of Chimney Rock
On top of Chimney Rock
Top of Chimney rock...camera timer…
Top of Chimney rock...camera time…
Chimney Rock top
Chimney Rock top
Chimney Rock top
Chimney Rock top
View from the Skyline Trail
View from the Skyline Trail
View from Inspiration Point on the…
View from Inspiration Point on th…
View from Inspiration Point on the…
View from Inspiration Point on th…
View from Peregrine’s Rest on th…
View from Peregrine’s Rest on t…
Wading the pool atop Hickory Nut F…
Wading the pool atop Hickory Nut …
The pool atop Hickory Nut Falls
The pool atop Hickory Nut Falls
I am trying not to slip and fall i…
I am trying not to slip and fall …
Beyond this point is the drop off …
Beyond this point is the drop off…
Somewhere along the Cliff Trail
Somewhere along the Cliff Trail
Chillin on the Cliff Trail
Chillin' on the Cliff Trail
Along the Cliff Trail
Along the Cliff Trail
Muscling our way along the Cliff T…
Muscling our way along the Cliff …
Eye on the sky
Eye on the sky
Along the Cliff Trail
Along the Cliff Trail
At the trails edge
At the trail's edge
Sitting on the edge
Sitting on the edge
Just a trickle of water
Just a trickle of water
Hickory Nut Falls
Hickory Nut Falls
Hickory Nut Falls are steeper than…
Hickory Nut Falls are steeper tha…
Hickory Nut Falls
Hickory Nut Falls
The reward at the end of Hickory N…
The reward at the end of Hickory …
Refreshing!
Refreshing!
Water..falls
Water..falls
Chimney Rock
photo by: Andy99