Chimney Rock State Park is located on the border of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 25 miles southeast of Asheville, NC, overlooking both Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge. Featuring a 315-foot-tall tower of rock—the park’s namesake—Chimney Rock offers not only the most amenities out of all the state’s parks, but also features 75-mile views of some of the state’s most breathtaking scenery, including the 404-foot-high Hickory Nut Falls.
Chimney Rock, which encompasses 8,014 acres and became part of the North Carolina State Park system in 2007, offers visitors the chance to ascend its iconic rock spire via its 500 steps, and although there is a fee to do so, the state park does include two free hiking and climbing attractions, Rumbling Bald and Eagle Rock.
The top of Chimney Rock is not wheelchair-accessible, but there is an elevator that goes to the Sky Lounge patio level, where the views are almost as amazing as at the top. While there is no camping within the park—which is open seven days a week, all year—there is a nearby family campground. The park also features two gift shops, bathrooms, a concession stand, and an on-site restaurant.
In addition to its towering namesake attraction, Chimney Rock State Park offers plentiful activities, amenities, and outdoor experiences for visitors, including trail hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, interpretive exhibits, biking, picnicking, and rock climbing; water activities are available at nearby Lake Lure. Note that horses are not permitted in the park.
Mountain Biking at Chimney Rock State Park
Recreational and mountain biking are allowed only on the 8.5-mile (one way) multi-use Weed Patch Mountain trail in the Eagle Rock section of the park; bikers should always yield to hikers on the trail. There is limited parking at the free access point at 1911 Shumont Road in Black Mountain; cyclists should be prepared to find alternate parking.
Hiking at Chimney Rock State Park
Offering 10 hiking trail options—only one of which is multi-use—Chimney Rock State Park offers two easy trails; the rest are either moderate or strenuous. If you choose to hike with your dog, be sure to yield to all other trail users—including bikers—and always clean up after your pet.
Several of the trailheads are free, including the Riverwalk Trail, Rumbling Bald Trail, Weed Patch Mountain Trail, and Tunnel Trail. The rest are located within the fee-based portion of the park, at the Chimney Rock attraction—which is a hike in unto itself with its 500 steps to the top.
Here are some of the more popular hiking-only trails at Chimney Rock State Park; note that all three listed below require paid admission to the Chimney Rock spire attraction:
- Great Woodland Adventure Trail: Easy, .4-mile loop trail with a 72’ elevation gain that offers interpretive displays and sculptures; good for families with children.
- Skyline Trail: Moderate, 2.2-mile out-and-back trail with a 2,460’ elevation gain that offers views of the 404’ Hickory Nut Falls.
- Exclamation Point Trail: Strenuous, .6-mile out-and-back trail with a 2,480’ elevation gain with access to the top of Hickory Nut Gorge and several scenic outlooks.
Rock Climbing at Chimney Rock State Park
There is rock climbing available at Rumbling Bald, which is renowned for its bouldering opportunities; free permits are available at the trailhead at 827 Boys Camp Road in Lake Lure. There are also guided climbs available.
Nature & Wildlife at Chimney Rock State Park
The Great Woodland Adventure trail offers a unique learning experience for all ages and features 12 interpretive discovery stations as well as the Grady’s Animal Discovery Den, named for the park’s mascot, Grady Groundhog. This air-conditioned attraction offers live exhibits where local, unreleasable wildlife can be observed, such as black rat snakes, corn snakes, box turtles, opossums, chipmunks, and groundhogs.
There are 132 species of birds in the park; warblers are the most common, but other rarer birds such as ospreys, eagles, and hawks can be spotted. Some of the land mammal sightings in the park have included foxes, coyotes, bats, and white-tailed deer.
Dogs are welcome in Chimney Rock State Park as long as they are leashed to 6’ or less and are under owner control at all times.
While there are no campgrounds within Chimney Rock State Park, the pet-friendly Hickory Nut Falls Family Campground is only a half-mile west of the park and features full hookups (30 and 50 amps) for RVs up to 40’ and campers as well as tent sites. Amenities include WiFi, a recreation hall with pool tables and video games, laundry facilities, bathhouses, a playground, firepits, fishing on the Rocky Broad River, and more.
Chimney Rock State Park
743 Chimney Rock Park Road
Chimney Rock, NC 28720
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Chimney Rock State Park:
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