Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chimney Rock State Park

Although it is one of North Carolina's newest state parks, Chimney Rock has been attracting visitors to the Hickory Nut Gorge area for well over a century.  The extremely popular tourist attraction was incorporated into the North Carolina State Park System in 2007 when the Morse family sold their 996 acre park to the state.  This allowed the land that the Morse family owned and the park they operated for over a century to be preserved from any future development.

An amazing view

We visited the park in the summer of 2011 to take in the views and hike some of the trails.  Chimney Rock is a 315 foot rock spire that affords amazing views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure.

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Chimney Rock is the center piece of the park, but as we found out on this visit.  There are a few other unique surprises that isn't that difficult of a hike away. 

After taking in the views from Chimney Rock, we headed out onto the Skyline Trail.  Almost immediately at the start of the trail, you come across Devil's Head. 

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Devil's Head is just a weathered rock that from a certain angle appears to be the head of the devil. A closer look is below.

A menacing figure

The Skyline Trail is rather short - only about 7/10ths of a mile round trip - but it gains about 150 in elevation and there are some steep stairways as part of the hike.  The trail leads to Exclamation Point, which at 2,480' is the highest point at the park.  The views of Hickory Nut Gorge and the surrounding area is impressive.

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After returning from Exclamation Point, we then took a 3/4ths of a mile hike to Hickory Nut Falls.  This 404' waterfall is one of the more popular photos spots in the park.

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It's very difficult to get the entire falls in full context.  But you are able to get very close and even underneath the falls.  And on a hot day, it can be very refreshing!

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Chimney Rock is a great day trip if you are visiting Asheville or Charlotte for an extended period of time.  In the summer months, the towns of Chimney Rock and Lake Lure offer great lodging and bed & breakfasts in addition to numerous outdoor opportunities.  Scenery in the fall is magnificent! 

For the entire set on flickr - head here.

Chimney Rock State Park and the Hickory Nut Gorge Region is about a 40 minute or so drive south and east of Asheville on either US 64 or US 74A.   The park is open year round and charges a $15 per person admission for adults $7 for children 5-15.  Discounts for AAA, AARP and other memberships are available.


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