Chimney Rock, North Carolina
This privately owned park in the Appalachians Range is worth a visit for the admission fee of $14 per person. Portions of the "Last of the Mohicans" movie were filmed on this location.
A shaft carved in the rock houses the elevator that takes atop Chimney Rock formation, from which the view is superb. From here, the Skyline Cliff trail leads to the top of Hickory Nut Falls. We attempted this hike but the August temperature of 103 F (39 C) and the scorching sun were too demanding to proceed. We otherwise took the shaded Hickory Nut Falls trail to reach the base of the almost dry falls.
Rock climbing with guides is also possible in the park and it could be a good opportunity for beginners.
Directions: Some 15 mi southeast of Asheville, NC, on Hwy Alt 74
Chimney Rock was our first introduction to the stunning scenery of western North Carolina. It’s a dramatic rock formation which has been developed (some might feel over-developed) into the centre piece of a privately-run nature park. The highlight of a visit is probably taking the elevator up through the rock to the viewpoint at the top, which offers spectacular 75-mile views of the surrounding countryside. Despite the commercialisation this really is something worth seeing, and if you want to get away from the other visitors this is easily done, as relatively few bother to take advantage of the many hiking trails on offer. For instance, you can choose to hike back down to the parking lot and en route detour to take the Hickory Nut Falls Trail. This trail takes about an hour to hike. At the end of the trail is 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls, the second tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi.
Unfortunately I’d had a nasty fall just before going away and as this was only the first full day of our holiday I wasn’t able to do as much walking here as I’d have liked. Despite that, we really enjoyed our stop here, including a good lunch (tuna sandwiches) and excellent ice-cream at the Sky Lounge Deli at the top of the elevator and a lovely stroll around the top of the rock.
We also had a nice walk along the banks of the Rocky Broad River in Chimney Rock Village, and finished with a refreshing drink at the Old Rock Café there.
By the way, if you’re in a wheelchair you should be able to get as far as the Sky Lounge using the elevator but won’t be able to use any of the trails, including that out to the viewpoint at the edge of the rock, which has a number of stairs. Nevertheless you’ll still get some great views from the Lounge.
Directions: Located 25 miles southeast of Asheville
Near Asheville there are many beautiful trails and vantage points to gaze out and enjoy the spectacular mountain views. However, Chimney Rock is certainly one of the most breathtaking. This photo shows Inspiration Point and the opening photo for this page shows the Chimney itself.