nature trips


wild flowers

dogs on leash

In 2005, the N.C. General Assembly authorized a new state park in the scenic Hickory Nut Gorge area of western Rutherford and the surrounding counties of Polk, Henderson and Buncombe. The unit was designated as Chimney Rock State Park shortly after the state had acquired Chimney Rock Park, a private nature park surrounding the striking 315-foot spire on the gorges southern side. The Chimney Rock area of the state park is operated by a private contractor and is open throughout the year. Entry fees offset the cost of operating this popular tourist destination. Currently, Chimney Rock is the only public access within the greater Chimney Rock State Park. However, the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation will eventually develop other areas of the state park with more traditional park facilities and recreation. The greater Chimney Rock State Park currently encompasses roughly 4,000 acres on both north and south sides of the gorge and expansion efforts continue to bring more of the gorges rich natural resources into conservation. Ultimately, a master plan for the entire park will be developed to fully protect the natural heritage and offer outdoor recreation options. Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park has been a tourist destination in western North Carolina since a simple stairway was built to the rocks summit in 1885. In 1902, Lucius B. Morse of Missouri bought the site. The Morse family developed park facilities including a tunnel and elevator to the rock summit, nature center and a network of hiking trails to geologic points of interest including the 404-foot-tall Hickory Nut Falls. Please click here to link to the site of Chimney Rock(www.chimneyrockpark.com)to plan your exploration of one of North Carolinas most unusual natural wonders. A park master planning public information session will be held on May 26 from 10am to 7pm. The drop-in planning session will involve a workstation format allowing people to attend at any time during the day and spend as much time as necessary to review and discuss design alternatives. Proposed design alternatives for the state park will be presented, and the public will be able to ask questions and offer comments to officials of the state parks system and Greenways Inc., a Durham-based environmental planning and landscape architecture firm responsible for completing the plan. Creating a world class state park at Chimney Rock has been and continues to be a partnership effort between the state parks system and the community, said Lewis Ledford, director of the state Division of Parks and Recreation. Chimney Rock State Park has benefited from strong support in the community, and its important that citizens continue to be involved in the process. A state parks master plan is essentially a blueprint for long-term development of facilities and recreation opportunities and a guide for protection of natural resources. It is meant to be an organic document, evolving as the park grows and as knowledge is gained about a parks natural resources and public use. Proposed designs also will be available beginning May 26 at www.greenways.com/chimneyrock. Written comments may be submitted through June 23 by using an online comment sheet or by mail to: General Management Plan Coordinator, N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, 1615 MSC, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1615.

on Party Rock

8 days ago

Good alternative view of the valley to stay away from the chimney rock crowds. The trail itself is less than impressive as you hike to the top, but the views from party rock are great. Only enough parking for 3-4 cars at the trail so you will most likely be parking on the side of the road.

Great trail, with an amazing view of the waterfall!

Lovely, easy trail. Busy with families and dogs. We had our three dogs with us and enjoyed the stroll. The waterfall at the enx is beautiful and views across the valley were stunning.

A lot of stairs to climb, but totally doable. My 7yo made it, no problem.

Nice family hike! Be prepared to get wet at the end.!

Nice easy family hike!!

This isn’t a “hard” trail. I would rank it moderate. The biggest issue is cardio. There are a lot of steps and incline but the footing is good and the trail is short. As always, wear the proper shoes because there is water on the trail. Great views with a good workout. I would definitely do this again, but continue up Skyline as well.

21 days ago

Family Friendly and EZ hike with great views at the end. The water was running well in December. You may want waterproof shoes or you’ll need to step carefully. It wasn’t a big deal but if more water was on the trail it could be in parts.
$15 a person is definitely a lot of money but it offered more value than Grandfather Mountain.

My favorite morning sunrise trail !

1 month ago

Best views after leaves are down; only a few rock climbers out.

A must do....at least once. No need to do stairmaster this week!

Pretty busy trail. Easy and well marked.

1 month ago

Clear crisp 32 degrees. The trail was uphill all the way as we expected. But at this time of year most of the leaves have fallen making it difficult to navigate the rocky trail. But so worth it. we hiked a little further to the top of the mountain where it was windy and the ground was frozen. We could see the snow topped Smokies. Also the freezing waterfall at Chimney Rock. Glad to have hiked it when all the leaves are gone!

A heavily trafficked trail worth the views

on Party Rock

1 month ago

Always have fun on this trail with my family. Not terribly difficult and a lot to see along the way.

2 months ago

Incredible waterfall. We took our 3 and 5 year old girls with us. We did this trail after doing the Outdoor Adventure trail for kids near the entrance to the park. Nothing technical. Climbed the stairs up to a Chimney Rock and Exclamation Point after this hike. This waterfall is definitely worth seeing.

We did this with our 3 and 5 year old girls before driving up to hike to the waterfall and chimney rock. Our kids loved it.

My wife and I did this with our 3 and 5 year old daughters. Hiked to the big waterfall then took the stairs up to Chimney Rock and then up to exclamation point - elevator back down. Great trip.

Lots of man made steps throughout. Falls were beautiful as well as the lookouts. Plenty of fellow hikers. Not sure if I’d do it again but was a nice way to spend an afternoon.

Not so much hiking as it was stair climbing. Great views though!

This hike which is a lot of stairs is great exercise but mostly for the views. My 11 year old kicked my but walking up the stairs. When you reach the top you can get a snack which he loved. Not a real hike but again, great for the scenery.

Get the elevator to Chimney rock to skip the first set of stairs. If you only walk to exclamation point is mostly stairs but if you continue to skyline then its a nice trail. Overall nice hike not too hard and with nice views.

We walked up all the stairs to get to Exclamation Point! Lots of stairs so not much hiking. The views are amazing up there and worth the climb! Then we went down to Devils Head. It was fine but no big deal to me.

Very beautiful waterfall! We went to top of Chimney Rock in the elevator after checking it out and hiking to exclamation point we then we went down the stairs that is marked ...Hickory Nut Falls. (Instead of starting at the trailhead) After hiking to the falls we skipped walking back up those stairs and went straight which took us back to the parking lot. Much easier than those stairs! The hike to the falls is good for anyone, past the stairs. It was pretty crowded. The park cost $15 a person to get it. Worth it for the views and of course for this great waterfall!

The hike is easy to do and the view at the end is amazing! Love this trail.

Too much woo stairs, it is not a real hiking to me. But the view was awesome!! Beautiful place.

Beautiful views.

Short hike, but there are lots of stairs which make it a fairly strenuous hike/walk. However, you will be rewarded with beautiful and unique views from Chimney Rock.

Enjoyed the hike. Took the smaller kids and they made it just fine. We headed for the trail but didn’t realize it was inside the park so we got to experience the whole park as well. Fees to get in are a little higher than should be. But all in all a good time. The falls were nice but employee on duty at falls so couldn’t cross border to get in water. Was our first trip to Chimney Rock so was well worth the day. Lookouts were nice.

3 months ago

Heck of a climb but a great reward!

Load More