This place Rocks!

Chimney Rock Village Travel Blog

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Entrance to Chimney Rock State Park (no need to stop here!).

Up and on the road bright and early to make the one hour drive to Chimney Rock State Park.  The only drag was crawling through Hendersonville.  I had heard good things about this town, but the horrendous traffic squelched my desire to explore it later.  No traffic in Chimney Rock.  The town is little more than a clutch of buildings around the entrance to the state park, clearly aiming to seize a few tourist dollars.

A learning curve on entering Chimney Rock.  There is an impressive stone gateway marking the park’s entrance off the main drag, but no need to stop here.  Just wheel on in, then twist and turn for a mile (gaining a chunk of elevation) to reach another gate, where you do stop and pay admission.  Relatively steep prices accompanied the climb: usual tariff is $15 per person.

Monarch butterfly at The Meadows in Chimney Rock State Park
  Today, however, the fee was reduced to $13 because the elevator which zips to the top of the rock was disabled.  I told the attendant I had no plans to take the elevator and she pleasantly shushed me, lol.

After this gate it was onward and upward.  I made one stop, at “The Meadows where several trailheads originate and other amusements are located.  There is a nice climbing tower and Grady’s Animal Discovery Den.  Grady is a groundhog, one of several critters enclosed in outdoor pens (and looking terribly bored).  Inside the spiffy building snakes and other smaller animals are on display.

Pressing on to the top (probably a mile beyond the gate where you pay), I parked and made for Chimney Rock.  This granite spire is visible for miles around and a spectacular natural formation.

First glimpses of Chimney Rock from the entrance gate (enabling to see how it is possible to hike above and get some nice pictures looking down upon the natural wonder).
  I began to appreciate the admission charge as I confronted the massive infrastructure constructed to render reaching the pinnacle a simple exercise in climbing stairs.  An appreciated facet of the journey was the numerous detours available.  It is not a one way trip to the top, but all the alternatives were in excellent condition and clearly well maintained (I walked every pathway available)

The very first diversion you encounter is Gneiss Cave. I guess it was nice, but disappointing.  Merely a single, short stairwell leading into a very small cave with no stunning features.  Of course it only takes a minute to check out, so really no downside to ducking in.

But on to the main event.  I found Chimney Rock to be worthwhile, though not jaw dropping.

Chimney Rock
  The views afforded across Lake Lure are lovely and it is awesome to be poised on this stone pillar.  Somehow it just lacked the exhilaration I’ve been socked with at similar destinations.  Scouting around the trails leading above, I found the views of Chimney Rock much more enticing then views from Chimney Rock.  Even the panoramas from above were not awe inspiring, pretty much identical to what can be seen from the Rock.  Perhaps it is the lack of a 360 view which denies that WOW factor?

I had fun scrambling around all of the many side jaunts up here, but eventually descended back to the Sky Lounge to score some lunch.

Hickory Nut Falls - obviously a big drop, but no essence of power during dry season.. :^(
  An important footnote is recognizing there are two levels of facilities here.  Cars are parked below at the first level, where there are a couple gift shops.  A second level is presented after ascending to Chimney Rock, where (surprise!) another gift shop and the Sky Lounge are found.  The Sky Lounge sells sandwiches and other meal items, versus nothing but snacks down below.  In addition, the Sky Lounge offers seating with great views and an internet camera so you can text friends and have them navigate to the web site and see you waving, lol.

After picking up a wrap I trooped back downstairs and scoured the trail map made for Hickory Nut Falls.  This probably rates as the park’s #2 destination, owing to being the setting for the final fight scene in “Last of the Mohicans” (the 1992 flick starring Daniel Day-Lewis).

Benches along Four Seasons Trail
 I am a huge fan of waterfalls, but timing is everything.  Hickory Nut Falls boasts an impressive 400-foot tumble, but in the midst of dry season, witnessing a trickle down a rock face was not terribly moving.  A key ingredient of waterfalls is the power they radiate, but at the moment Hickory Nut was a bit wimpy.

Disappointment was multiplied by a less than satisfying hike.  The trail was short and level along a wide path (park vehicles clearly used it), so no challenge whatsoever.  Consulting my trail map, however, revealed there were only two more trails to traipse and thus conquer every inch of available hiking in the park.

So I returned to The Meadows to stroll the Four Seasons Trail and Great Woodlands Adventure Trail.  Four Seasons was okay.

The stairways they constructed to reach Chimney Rock are quite impressive
  An interesting contrast to Chimney Rock, which was jammed with humanity, versus encountering but a single human up and back.  It was also a real trail with elevation changes.  Sadly, I seemed to be the day’s trail breaker.  Whenever I lead a gang out on a trail in first light, I pick up a twig and wave it up and down to clear away spider webs.  Starting out on Four Seasons at 1PM I disregarded any such need.  Five minutes later, after brushing about ten webs and one spider from my face I picked up sticks, lol.

Circling back I enjoyed the Great Woodlands Adventure Trail, a short jaunt that was fun.  This trail was built for youngsters and includes a lot of visual aids, many interactive.  But geez, I had planned on spending an entire day here and with trails exhausted, it was time to head back and seek other diversions.

Zagnut66 says:
Vance, you may have seen so many interesting places on your travels that sites like Chimney Rock now seem tame in comparison.
Posted on: Sep 08, 2015
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Entrance to Chimney Rock State Par…
Entrance to Chimney Rock State Pa…
Monarch butterfly at The Meadows i…
Monarch butterfly at The Meadows …
First glimpses of Chimney Rock fro…
First glimpses of Chimney Rock fr…
Chimney Rock
Chimney Rock
Hickory Nut Falls - obviously a bi…
Hickory Nut Falls - obviously a b…
Benches along Four Seasons Trail
Benches along Four Seasons Trail
The stairways they constructed to …
The stairways they constructed to…
Im serious!
I'm serious!
Chimney Rock, NC - looking across …
Chimney Rock, NC - looking across…
Gift shops and parking lot at base…
Gift shops and parking lot at bas…
One of many fun alternative routes…
One of many fun alternative route…
Sky Lounge at Chimney Rock State P…
Sky Lounge at Chimney Rock State …
Looking up at Chimney Rock from th…
Looking up at Chimney Rock from t…
Chimney Rock Volunteer Fire Depart…
Chimney Rock Volunteer Fire Depar…
There are a host of lookouts along…
There are a host of lookouts alon…
Climbing Tower at The Meadows
Climbing Tower at The Meadows
Plenty of signs and maps...no chan…
Plenty of signs and maps...no cha…
Steps down to Four Seasons Trail (…
Steps down to Four Seasons Trail …
Gneiss Cave - not so nice that you…
Gneiss Cave - not so nice that yo…
Inside Gneiss Cave
Inside Gneiss Cave
Just fully documenting Gneiss Cave…
Just fully documenting Gneiss Cav…
Gradys Den
Grady's Den
Snake at Gradys Den
Snake at Grady's Den
Great Woodlands Adventure - a very…
Great Woodlands Adventure - a ver…
...like this giant spider!
...like this giant spider!
Salamander display along Great Woo…
Salamander display along Great Wo…
...and the placard with some brief…
...and the placard with some brie…
Another grizzly display at Great W…
Another grizzly display at Great …
Hickory Nut Falls
Hickory Nut Falls
Hickory Nut Falls Trail (road …
Hickory Nut Falls "Trail" ("road"…
Chimney Rock Village Sights & Attractions review
Higher Spires
The primary feature of Chimney Rock State Park is its namesake granite spire - a natural wonder certainly worth experiencing. Offering 75-mile views,… read entire review
Chimney Rock Village
photo by: vances