I finally made it to Chimney Rock State Park, one of North Carolina’s most iconic landmarks! The 315-foot stone pinnacle offers a sweeping panoramic view of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure.
Chimney Rock State Park – North Carolina
The entrance to the park is located in the center of Chimney Rock Village, a super cute little mountain town that begs to be explored. (More on that later.)
It’s a long and winding road up to the ticket booth ($17, yikes! but worth it) and then you’ll continue winding those switchbacks all the way to the parking lot.
The park opened at 8:30 a.m. and I arrived shortly after that to avoid throngs of people.
There are two ways to get up to the top of Chimney Rock: ride the elevator or climb the stairs.
If you opt for the elevator (no judgment) you’ll walk through a 198-foot tunnel where signs will illustrate what went into the excavation of the tunnel.
Once you exit the elevator, there are just 44 steps to the Chimney Rock summit.
The view of Hickory Nut Gorge is incredible!
Call me crazy, but I didn’t ride the elevator to the top. I opted to climb the stairs as a personal
My staircase route (there are various options depending on what you want to see on the way up) had 494 steps which, pre-climb, sounded less difficult than it was.
There were a lot of steps. So. Many. Steps.
But I did make it to the top and I’m glad I challenged myself to do it, especially since there were various rock formations and overlooks along the way.
I stopped at Pulpit Rock and Vista Rock as I made the ascent.
At the top of Chimney Rock, the elevation is 2,280 feet and the overlook offers a 360-degree view of the world beneath your feet.
I especially loved seeing the pretty blue water of Lake Lure.
After taking it all in for a little while, I made my way back down to the bottom, but via the elevator this time.
Hickory Nut Falls Trails
There are a number of hiking trails throughout the park, two of which give you views of this beautiful horsetail waterfall.
I generally prefer the view next to and from the bottom of the falls, so I took the Hickory Nut hiking trail. There were stairs just past the restrooms that took me down to the trailhead.
The map makes the trail look ridiculously long, but it’s just 1.4 miles round trip. The trail is mostly gravel with some rocks and boulders and a moderate elevation climb. It’s a great woodland adventure!
When you reach the waterfall, there’s a short flight of stairs leading to an observation deck.
It’s so beautiful!
Remember those stairs I took to get down to the trailhead? I had to take those back up to get to the parking lot. My legs were spaghetti!
Tip: To avoid climbing those stairs, park in the lower parking area and you can walk right to the trailhead from there.
I would have loved to keep hiking and get the top-of-the-falls perspective, but my legs needed a break. If you’re up for it, take the Exclamation Point Trail (strenuous) to the Skyline Trail (moderate). You can expect to hike about 3 1/2 hours round trip going this way.
Chimney Rock Village
Ready for lunch? Right across the road as you exit Chimney Rock State Park is a little place called Medina’s Village Bistro and that’s where I decided to have lunch. It’s just a diner so don’t expect five-star service, but the food is really, really good.
Also in Chimney Rock Village is a restaurant affiliated with the state park called Old Rock Cafe, but I chose Medina’s because it was rated higher on Yelp and TripAdvisor.
After lunch, take some time to poke in and out of the village shops. One of my favorites was Bubba O’Leary’s General Store.
Rocky Broad Riverwalk
Before leaving Chimney Rock Village, be sure to take a few minutes for a scenic stroll on the Rocky Broad Riverwalk. The riverwalk runs parallel to the shops and restaurants.
I chose to let my inner child play, so I climbed out onto the rocks and got up close and personal with the rapids, but I was wearing hiking shoes with great traction.
Chimney Rock State Park is about 5 minutes from Lake Lure, 20 minutes from Asheville and 30 minutes from Hendersonville. And, you’ll find the best zipline ever just 40 minutes away.
Comments & Reviews
The views are incredible!! We haven’t made it there yet, but it’s on my bucket list!! We just moved to NC a couple years ago. 🙂
Mom Knows Best says
I too would take the stairs. It would be a great way to get exercise with awesome views.
Wow! What amazing views!! I love getting the chance to travel and see places like this with my kids. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos!
Shannon Graham says
What a fun spot to visit! I love the nature aspect of traveling, so this is definitely a spot I would love to see.
Lisa Joy Thompson says
I totally need to plan a trip here. It looks absolutely beautiful and it’s a fun way to exercise. I just google mapped it and it’s a 12 hour drive or a 2 hour flight to Charlotte… I see a trip in the near future!
Wow, those photos are all so stunning. I have got to go there sometime. I would love to see the amazing view too.
What a beautiful place to explore! The view at the top is really stunning! Such a fun adventure to try with the kids!
Myrah Duque says
OK! I gotta go to this park, on my bucket list now. So many beautiful views to enjoy with the family. I would take the elevator and walk through a 198-foot tunnel!! Sounds exciting.
This looks like such a great place to go. Such an amazing once in a lifetime place to go for some people. I would love to take the kids!
Annemarie LeBlanc says
That place is beautiful! The views from Pulpit rock is totally stunning. I wish I lived close. If I did, I’d probably be there every weekend, just marveling at nature’s beauty.
Lyanna Soria says
Definitely, an amazing place to visit with the family. The view looks absolutely beautiful and sounds like you guys had a wonderful time during your visit.
Alissa A Apel says
What a fantastic view! I love vacation spots like this.
National parks are my absolute favorite! Putting this one on the list for sure