>Climbing Chimney Rock

Filed under: Nature, Outside Asheville, Things to Do

>It was another lovely day Sunday, and two of our daughters were visiting us, so after the guests left and our chores were finished we took off for a hike up to Chimney Rock. Chimney Rock State Park is about a 30 minute drive from the Carolina Bed & Breakfast, up and down a curving mountain road which passes mountain streams and small towns. In the Fall this area is full of people who come to see the leaves and drink freshly pressed apple cider but today it was left pretty much to the locals and a few people passing through.

Most people drive to the top parking lot and then take an elevator to reach the Skyway and climb a few short steps to the top of Chimney Rock.
But we chose to take the Four Seasons and then the Outcroppings Trail and climb more than four hundred stairs to get to the viewpoint. Here are Sarah and Abby at the start of our climb, looking happy and rested.

At the end of the Four Seasons Trail there is a map showing you how far you have come (and how far you have to go!). If you want to, at this point you can take another trail to Hickory Nut Falls. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time for that trail so will have to return. But the falls are supposed to be spectacular, one of the highest in North America.

A welcome stopping point is the Moonshiners’ Cave. I don’t whether it is true or not that moonshine was once hidden inside this cavern but it is a lovely, deep, dark and cool place for a rest!

After that brief stop, it was back to the stairs!

Here I am with Sarah and Abby at one of the viewpoints on the trail. From the top of Chimney Rock you can see more than 75 miles on a clear day.

After about 20 minutes climbing we came out of the forest to a point where we could see the rock. Chimney Rock is a monolith almost 315 feet high.

We are still climbing stairs but we are almost there. You can see the flag above James’ head.

Even though it is at an altitude of 2,280 feet, Chimney Rock is not the highest point in the park. If you really want to make sure your legs hurt the next day, you can continue on up the Skyway to Exclamation Point. I took this picture of Chimney Rock from about halfway up the Skyway. You used to be able to walk along the cliffs at the top but that walk had to be closed a number of years back. We met a Ranger who was watching a peregrine falcon nesting up there. Apparently the falcons had pretty much moved away when the Cliff Walk was open but now that it has been closed they have started to return and this year they are nesting there for the first time in three years.
Here is James at the very top. Well not the very top since I clearly took the picture from above, but close!


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