Once again, the reference map. Are you getting tired of this map yet?
Day 5, the last day of being a tourist. Today we’re headed to Chimney Rock. You can see it on the map just south-east of Asheville. We decided to take the interstate this time, just to make it an easier drive, I was getting a bit tired of the winding, steep mountain roads.
Chimney Rock is a state park. It’s open all year and there is a fee. They do offer a military discount (I didn’t ask for any other discounts since I’m retired military and didn’t need to).
If you get there early enough, you can drive to the upper parking area, but it’s not very big, so you usually get directed to a lower area and they have old school buses to shuttle you up and down.
The climb up to the top is actually 499 stairs. There is an elevator but has been a state of “renovation” for almost two years. So the stairs are the only option. They did a good design in building the stairs. About every 12 feet or so there is a wide landing where you can step the side, enjoy the view and catch your breath. You can end up playing “leapfrog” with folks, as you pass them on one landing, only to have them pass you on the next landing while you’re stopped. The elevation change from the upper parking area to the top of the monolith is about 315 feet.
There are two paths to the top. One is the stairs, the other takes you through the “Crevice path” (just a wide path in a gap), and two features they call the “Subway” and the “Grotto”. Both paths meet up just a little way up, so you’re still climbing stairs most of the way. We chose the stairs going up and the other route on the way down.
Up the path a bit is “Pulpit Rock”;
There are great views of the surrounding area from here, including Lake Lure.
They claim it takes an average of 25 minutes to climb the stairs to the top. I know we were nowhere near that time. But we made it, and we didn’t die!
There are more steps that continue going up the mountain that connects to another trail that will eventually lead to the top of the mountain and Hickory Nut Falls. We had no intention of going up that far. We headed back down the stairs this time taking the path we didn’t take going up.
The Subway is just a low area that you, well at least I did, have to duck to get through.
We stopped about halfway down to have lunch. One of the nice things about this park is that they let you bring in food. And they’re also pet-friendly which is cool. We enjoyed our light lunch (and the forgotten leftover desserts from Thanksgiving) and headed the rest of the way down to the upper parking area.
From there we took the Hickory Nut Falls Trail, which takes you to the bottom of the waterfall. The trail is only about three-quarters of mile long, but it’s not paved in any way. Since we were there in late fall the path was covered with many leaves. This made it quite easy to stumble over hidden rocks and tree roots. And with an already gimpy ankle, I found the going tough.
At the end of the trail is the falls;
This area of the park was used to film scenes in the movie “The Last Of The Mohicans”. At 404 feet, this is the second highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.
That was pretty much the extent of our touring on day 5, so we headed back to the cabin. We had dinner at Legends Sports Bar in Maggie Valley. Some awesome burgers and more local craft beer were had.
Tomorrow I’ll wrap everything up and some odds & ends, and of course a traffic rant.
Hope you enjoyed. Please leave a comment or two!