Top of the Rock in New York City? Not today! We’re heading out to western North Carolina to check out Chimney Rock. At one time a privately-owned attraction, Chimney Rock was sold to the State of North Carolina in 2007 and is now a part of the still-developing Chimney Rock State Park. The park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, east of Asheville. The entrance fee is a bit steep at $15 per adult, but on the day we visited the elevator was out of order ($2 off) and they honor AAA discount (another $2 off). Yes, you read correctly. Elevator. Just like Rockefeller Center, but cheaper! This is a developed site, making it accessible to a larger portion of the population than a remote undeveloped park. But you can still enjoy nature if you are willing to hike away from the main tourist areas. The entrance is in the middle of tiny Chimney Rock Village, population 113 as of the 2010 census. Definitely not Manhattan!
From the parking lot inside the park, a 1.4 mile (round trip) hike takes you to Hickory Nut Falls. You can hear the water as you come around the bend in the trail. Looking up the granite cliff face, you encounter the falls.
There is a nice viewing platform at the base of the falls. At 404 feet, the falls are some of the tallest of their kind east of the Mississippi.
Do these look familiar? Hickory Nut Falls and the surrounding mountains were the filming location for several movies, including “Firestarter” and “A Breed Apart.” But another movie was also filmed on location here, and that is the basis for today’s quiz question: What 1992 epic historical film set in 1757 in the middle of the French and Indian War, and starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe, was filmed here? The answer is at the end of this post.
Click or tap on the above image to start the short video. But enough daydreaming and thinking about movies. It was time to see the main feature of the park, the Chimney Rock. We knew the elevator was out of order, but we weren’t planning on taking it anyway. Not when the challenge of 500 steps was in front of us! We went up….
A bit winded but thankful for the structurally sound steps, we paused within view of the objective. We thought, duh, is this sign really necessary? Apparently so.
The view from the rock is panoramic, with Lake Lure in the background.
Not content to end there, we continued to climb upward on the less-developed trail to the top of the ridge. Along the way, we came across the aptly-named “Devil’s Head.” Some day gravity will win, and then look out below!
Turning around to look back down on the Chimney Rock, we could better see the pinnacle or “chimney” shape of this geologic formation. The lack of a functioning elevator definitely kept the number of people to a minimum. 🙂
From the top of the ridge, the 2.2 mile (roundtrip) Skyline Trail heads out through the forest, ending at Falls Creek just above Hickory Nut Falls.
Wildflowers were still in bloom…
and the vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Exclamation Point were great. Surprisingly for mid-October, the leaves were not yet starting to change color. Global climate change? Or just a warm autumn here? Who knows.
On the way back, you guessed it, we had to go down all those steps. But going down was a lot easier than going up! All in all, it was a great day and a fun adventure. Give it a shot if you are ever in the area.
And the answer to the quiz question: “The Last of the Mohicans.” Congratulations if you got it right!
See you next week on the next installment of our adventures. We’ll be returning to memories of our recent trip to Europe.