Hiking Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock, Icon in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Experience the fall beauty of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains by hiking the trails at Chimney Rock State Park.

Fall is in full swing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and the leaves are painting the hills bright red, beautiful yellow, and vivid orange. If you’re into hiking and mountain trails, head to Chimney Rock State Park for a close-up view of the scenery.

The 1000-acre park is home to The Chimney, a North Carolina icon reaching 315 feet into the air above Hickory Nut Gorge and offering a stunning 75-mile panoramic view. While many visitors opt to take the 26-story elevator built inside the mountain to the top, you might want to take the adventurous route, via the Outcroppings Trail. There are four other trails to choose in Chimney Rock Park: the Skyline Trail, Hickory Nut Falls Trail, Four Seasons Trail, and the Great Woodland Adventure.

Take a Hike on the Outcroppings Trail to the Chimney Rock Pinnacle

The Outcroppings Trail will get you to the top of the rock through a series of stairs and boardwalks, plus you’ll get some unique photo opportunities that are impossible to see from inside the elevator. Once you make it to the top, the bird’s eye view will be even sweeter.

Climb to the Sky when You Follow the Skyline Trail to Exclamation Point–2,480 feet Upward

The Skyline Trail will take you on a 20-minute vigorous hike up to Exclamation Point–2,480 feet meandering through verdant woodlands and natural cliffs. Visit the Opera Box on the way up, so named because of the narrow, horizontal panoramic view created by a rock overhang.

You’ll also get a good look at the Devil’s Head just above the Chimney, a rock formation that looks like the Devil himself! Exclamation Point, is 200 feet higher than the Chimney, making it the highest point in Chimney Rock Park.

Hike the Hickory Nut Falls Trail to the Hickory Nut 404-foot Waterfall

The Hickory Nut Falls Trail, a .75-mile trail will lead you through a forest of trees, including oak, hickory, and maple. You’ll also enjoy lush scenery, replete with fauna and wildflowers as you make your way to Hickory Nut Falls, a 404-foot waterfall at trail’s end.

Take a Hike on The Four Seasons Trail in Chimney Rock Park in Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall

The Four Seasons Trail is aptly named because it provides year-round hiking access to the mountaintop. The .6-mile trail provides a moderate to strenuous workout as it winds through hardwood forests and past thickets of Carolina Rhododendron and mountain laurel.

The Great Woodlands Adventure Trail in Chimney Rock s for the Young and Young at Heart

The Great Woodlands Adventure Trail is good to try if you have kids or just want to take it easy. You’ll find 12 discovery stations along this .6-mile trail as well as larger-than-life animal sculptures. Learn about chipmunks, spiders, and salamanders from Grady the Groundhog, Chimney Rock’s mascot.

Admission to the park is $14 for adults ages 16 and over, $6 for ages 6 to 15, and free for kids under 6. Tickets for groups of 20 or more are $11.50 for adults and $5 for kids. Annual passes at $25 for adults and $10 for ages 6-15, may be a good option since the park is open year-round, closing only on inclement weather days and Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It’s time to put on those hiking boots and hit the trails in Chimney Rock State Park. It’s located in Rutherford County, just 25 miles southeast of Asheville, NC, and is situated between Lake Lure and Bat Cave, right in the middle of Hickory Nut Gorge. For directions to Chimney Rock State Park visit its website.


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