December 04, 2022
I’ve always loved the thrillingly high and picturesque view from the cracked rock tower known as Chimney Rock, 25 miles southeast of Asheville, North Carolina. I came here many times as a child and young adult when I lived in the Carolinas. Privately owned and operated as a tourist attraction until 2007, today this beautiful place is part of Chimney Rock State Park. We made time to revisit it and explore its trails while in Asheville in late October and early November.
Fall color was just over the day we visited but still good. My husband climbed the steep stairs from the parking area to the top of the chimney. Behind the rock, a thigh-burning trail climbs further up, allowing you to look up at Chimney Rock. I’ve climbed those stairs before — most recently in 2011 — but this time was happy to take the elevator that takes you up to a scenic overlook, where you can climb the last flight of stairs to the top of the rock.
Views for miles! That is Lake Lure in the distance.
Fall colors, blue skies and the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains
Go up the stairs to the top of the rock.
Those coming up from the parking area take the stairs on the left.
Here are some tree fingers on the rocks.
Looking down at an exposed section of the lower stairs to the rail and Chimney Rock Village far below.
Looking up, you can see where the exclamation point trail leads up the mountain in a tower of winding stairs.
Sandwiched between massive layers of rock is the opera box — look for the white railing — that offers stunning views. Above the exclamation point is the Skyline Trail, which runs along the clifftop. My husband did this too when I hung out at Chimney Rock.
We then descend about 400 steps on the Outcroppings Trail to a spacious picnic deck that is tucked into the side of the mountain. (Trail map for orientation here.) Looking up from here you can see the Chimney Rock lip above.
After lunch we hiked another long flight of the Hickory Nut Falls Trail, which leads through a hardwood forest to Hickory Nut Falls. The trees along this path turned golden and rust red.
Stairs, stairs, and more stairs. Near the base of the falls, we climbed another short flight to a small overlook. The approximately 350-foot Horsetail Falls are dramatic from a distance but not really from this angle…
… nor from the base of the falls, since the largest drop is out of sight above. Still, it’s a nice hike and refreshing to feel the water mist around the pool at the base of the hill. My husband took this picture and shared it with me, since I neglected to take a picture here.
We saw this beautiful blushing tree on our way out of the park.
We then head to the Lake House Restaurant (formerly Larkins) in Lake Lure for a delicious dinner and lake view.
This wraps up my posts about our Asheville stay, but I’ll share two destinations from our road trip home. Next up: a poignant visit to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. For a look back at the North Carolina Arboretum’s garden and bonsai collection, click here.
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