Chimney Rock State Park is one of the most popular parks to visit in Western North Carolina.
And climbing the 499 steps to the top of Chimney Rock is one of our top suggestions for things to do in North Carolina – the views are just magnificent.
Chimney Rock State Park was on our itinerary for when my parents visited us in Raleigh from Australia for our 6 week USA road trip with them.
My dad is a big movie buff, and in case you don’t know, Chimney Rock park was made famous by the movie, Last of the Mohicans staring Daniel Day Lewis, and my dad loved the connection that the Chimney Rock area has to that movie.
Where is Chimney Rock?
Getting to Chimney Rock NC is easy. It is located in the Village of Chimney Rock and easily accessible from I-40. Drive time from Asheville is just 40-minutes making it one of our top suggestions for things to do near Asheville.
From Charlotte it’s a 2-hour drive, from Raleigh it’s 4-hours, and it’s only a 5-minute drive from one of our favorite places to visit in North Carolina, Lake Lure.
Click the map below for Chimney Rock directions from your starting point:
What is Chimney Rock?
Chimney Rock is a 35-million-year-old, 315-foot high large granite outcropping located on a summit above the village of Chimney Rock and inside of Chimney Rock State Park.
Climbing To The Top of Chimney Rock
The number one thing to do here is climb to the top of the rock on the Chimney Rock hike.
From the top you get amazing 75-mile views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure and The Blue Ridge mountains – it’s truly one of our favorite views of the North Carolina mountains!
The Outcroppings Trail is a series of staircases and lookout points allowing you to climb to the top of Chimney Rock itself.
I think this is a relatively moderate hike up to the top – 499 steps to the top – which my 76 year old father and 69 year old mother managed just fine.
It’s a nice cardio and leg workout, although we did have a few stops along the way to catch our breath and admire the views.
For those that are physically challenged, an elevator was built into a hole in the rock face that conveniently allows all guests easy access to the top of the Chimney for its spectacular views.
Along the way, be sure to visit the Grotto, Opera Box, Subway and Pulpit Rock.
And there are a couple of walking trails that take you up to the mountain above Chimney Rock which offer incredible views you won’t see anywhere else in the Park.
Craig ran up one to take the below photo for you…
Hickory Nut Falls Trail
Probably the most popular of the Chimney Rock trails is the Hickory Nut Falls trail which takes you to the bottom of one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River.
This is a beautiful and moderate 1.4 mile round trip trail and you are rewarded with a magnificent view from the base of this 404-foot waterfall that was featured in the epic fight scene from the film, The Last of the Mohicans.
We enjoyed this hike which weaves through a mix of Oak and Hickory trees, and we recommended it for families with small children and for grandparents.
There’s a few moderate uphill sections and a small set of stairs at the base of the falls, so we don’t suggest this for strollers or wheelchairs.
Along this trail are picnic tables, benches, and resting areas are conveniently located offering you a chance to rest and catch your breath.
The spectacular view of the waterfall is totally worth it.
Admission to Chimney Rock State Park:
- Adults: $17
- Youth: (ages 5-15): $8
- Family (two adults and up to three youth ages 5-15): $45
Get more info about Chimney Rock State Park including more hiking trails go here.
Eat, Shop, and Chill in Chimney Rock Village
After your time hiking and exploring Chimney Rock State Park, head into Chimney Rock Village for shopping and perhaps a coffee (Broad River Coffee Shop) or lunch break.
This village is a small one street mountain town with stores and restaurants perched on the banks of the Rocky Broad River, tucked in the Hickory Nut Gorge.
The Broad River runs alongside Chimney Rock village and is a gorgeous little oasis on a hot sunny day.
Sit on the deck of Riverwatch Bar & Grill with a nice glass of champagne while your kids scramble over the rocks below.
I didn’t do it on this trip, but I did on a previous trip with other adult friends – ah the serenity of a glass of wine uninterrupted by cries of your kids of “Moooommm”.
The water was running pretty fast here so I’m not sure about swimming. I think you can find little pools of water that will help cool you down.
On the previous evening, the Symphony of Rutherford County held their annual dinner and symphony event. We grabbed a picnic dinner and headed down to the Gathering Place in Chimney Rock Village to watch it.
Sadly due to my bee sting incident that day, we were a little late in arriving.
We only managed to catch a few of the songs at the end, but it was spectacular.
We were starting to get into it with the beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace and Danny Boy and wished they kept playing. Those bagpipes made the mountains behind sing.
It was such an exquisite venue for an intimate music venue with the locals, and a nice way to cap off a visit to the Chimney Rock area.
We love experiencing local treats like this when we travel. If you’re heading to the North Carolina mountains, don’t miss Chimney Rock!