Chimney Rock State Park is located in Rutherford County, North Carolina. The park is in the mountainous Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, and it encompasses nearly one thousand acres. Asheville is approximately twenty-five miles northwest of Chimney Rock. Visitors to the park enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and nature-watching.
Chimney Rock State Park has five hiking trails. Each trail is rated in skill level according to its difficulty. Some hikers may simply desire a pleasant stroll through the park, while others want a strenuous workout. Most of the five trails are open year-round whenever the weather is satisfactory.
Bird-watching is another popular activity. Scarlet Tanagers, Cerulean, and Swainson Warblers are just a few of the birds located in the Chimney Rock area. Hickory Nut Falls Trail is one of the most popular bird-watching locations. Each September, the park hosts Flock to the Rock, a weekend bird-watching event. Flock to the Rock allows bird enthusiasts to take guided walks around the area to view the numerous birds indigenous to North Carolina. Some visitors enjoy the views of Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge from atop Chimney Rock.
Popular Places to See
Chimney Rock, also known as The Chimney, is perhaps the most popular site in the park. It is a monolith at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it is more than 300 foot tall. The top of the mountain can be accessed via elevator. From the top of Chimney Rock, nature-lovers are rewarded with a 75-mile view as they look down at the lush wildlife of Hickory Nut Gorge.
The Opera Box is carved into the side of a rock. Inside the box, visitors are sheltered beneath an overhang with a horizontal opening that affords a view of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The Opera Box is arguably the prettiest, most unique place in Chimney Rock Park. From the box, spectators can view the wide sky, the water, and myriad trees.
Hickory Nut Falls Trail leads to the beautiful Hickory Nut Falls. Visitors can view the falls via a platform on the trail. The waterfall located there is known as one of the tallest waterfalls to the east of the Mississippi River.
Exclamation Point is the highest point in the entire park. It boasts an elevation of 2,480 feet. Most visitors reach the pinnacle via a combination of driving and hiking. Exclamation Point is located along the Skyline Trail, and visitors can see the entrance to the park in the valley below.
Chimney Rock State Park is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. The park may also be closed at times due to weather. Those who would like more information should visit the park’s website at http://www.chimneyrockpark.com/. The website provides travel directions, parking information, and admissions information.