June 23, 2007 – We visited Chimney Rock Park as a side trip while staying in Asheville at the beginning of our Blue Ridge Parkway Tour. The Morse family has owned and shared this special place since 1902 when tourists would arrive on horseback or in carriages. Now you can visit in comfort and welcome it as one of North Carolina’s newest additions to its state park system.
An elevator ride up through the mountain gets you just about up to Chimney Rock level. But to get all the way out to this point, there are several stairs that must be climbed. She couldn’t manage the stairs to the edge, but Mom enjoyed the views from the level of the Sky Lounge. When I returned from my hike, she told me how much she had enjoyed visiting with some of the other folks coming in and out of the gift shop and restaurant.
I decided to hike the Skyline-Cliff Trail Loop trail that lead to views like this and to the top of Hickory Nut Falls. This was one of my favorite inspirational stops.
There are many worthwhile places to pause in wonder at the beauty all around. The tiny trail to the right takes you across the area seen toward the end of the movie “Last of the Mohicans” where the heroine’s sister took a dive. Amazing views, huh?
If you have a fear of heights, this might not be the place for you, though.
Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! Here are a few of the tight areas on the trail that keeps things interesting.
But what was really interesting is that I actually made it to the top of Hickory Nut Falls, a 404 foot wonder!
I made it – the spirit was way too willing to keep going even when the bones squeaked! What they say is a 2 hour round trip hike actually took me more than 3 hours. But I spent quite a while resting at the top here soaking my hot, tired feet in the cool water and watching kids play in the waterfall. Well worth every step!
I was absolutely exhausted when I was through, but I was so proud of myself for having managed it.
There’s a sign quoting Louis L’Amour along the way that says “The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.” I say “Amen to that!” Do whatever you can not to miss this fantastic landscape when you’re in the area.
431 Main St. — Chimney Rock, NC — (828) 625-9611