Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park, just 25 miles from Asheville, boasts that it has the "best of the North Carolina mountains in one place." For the last 100+ years, tourists have journeyed to see this 500-million-year-old towering monolith, and the park's "one-stop shopping" for what the mountains are loved for: dramatic scenery, exhilarating hiking trails, rare plants, native wildlife, and one of North Carolina's highest waterfalls (featured in the movie The Last of the Mohicans). Many improvements to the park were recently completed, including a 26-story elevator through the mountain, stairs and trails to the top and more!
Enjoy the views of Lake Lure from the top of the Chimney, complete with strong hand railings to ease any fears of heights.
Top of the Rock: To reach the top of Chimney Rock, drive up a three mile winding road to a large parking area. Then ride the 26-story elevator to the top (in just 30 seconds) or climb 500 steps to the chimney. On a clear day, enjoy 75-mile views overlooking Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.
Hiking: For some of the best variety in North Carolina hiking, try one of their trails. Here are three great hikes-from easy and to a bit strenuous. (Also see our Hiking Guide.)
Hickory Nut Falls Trail: This "easy" trail is a wide, gently rolling path to the bottom of the 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls waterfall. The 1.5-mile roundtrip trail is mostly wooded with just a few moderate uphill sections. The best trail for wildflowers, birding and rhododendron. It's shaded, go a great option on a hot day. See our Hickory Nut Falls Guide.
The Outcroppings: Follow this network of stairs from the parking area to the Chimney. Along the way, check out the views from Vista Point. Strenuous with 500 steps, but all ages and fitness levels can enjoy the challenge with many places to stop along the way.
Skyline Trail: At the staircase leading up to the Chimney, find the beginning of the Skyline Trail. After climbing quite a few stairs, the trail levels out as you walk along the cliff with dramatic views. Stop at the Opera Box for great views of the Chimney and Lake Lure and continue up to see the Devil's Head and end at Exclamation Point, the highest elevation at Chimney Rock (2,480 ft), for nice gorge views.
Four Seasons Trail: Get your heart pumping on this 6/10-mile trail with a 400-foot elevation gain. The trail winds through hardwood forest, rhododendron and mountain laurel thickets and abundant wildflowers as well as rare and indigenous plants, some species not found along the Park's other trails.
Great Woodland Adventure: This whimsical trail is perfect for kids and kids-at-heart. Twelve discovery stations along the half mile loop give a peak into the lives of the many animals that call the Park home. All sculptures were handcrafted by Western North Carolina artisans.
Birding: Chimney Rock is an official site on the NC Birding Trail and offers birding walks and programs throughout the year with Ornithologist Simon Thompson. Download and print the Chimney Rock Birding Guide. Don't bring your binoculars for a chance to see the amazing
acrobatics of a Peregrine Falcon high above the Gorge, slicing through the air
at more than 60 mph or swooping on smaller birds in flight at the incredible
diving speed of 200 mph. The Park hosts its Annual Flock to the Rock in late September featuring birding workshops, guided walks and other programs at no additional cost. Read about Birding Weekend!
Dining and Shopping: The village of Chimney Rock, located at the base of the park, has a variety of cute shops and local restaurants. The primary gift shop in the Park is Cliff Dwellers Gifts, and Chimney Rock operates the Old Rock Cafe at the Park entrance. You can get a picnic (Hiker's Lunch) from Old Rock Cafe and picnic along a trail. There are several picnic tables, including one at the base of Hickory Nut Falls and one at Exclamation Point.
Special Events: See Chimney Rock Events for the entire year.
Fall Color: The grand autumn color show peaks in early November in this year, later than the rest of the mountains since this is a lower elevation. See our Fall Foliage Guide for the full scoop.
Rock Climbing: Read more about rock climbing near Asheville with an experienced guide.
View from Exclamation Point, the highest elevation at Chimney Rock
Tips for Visiting Chimney Rock
1. Take your time. Plan to spend at least a half day.
2. Wear very comfortable walking shoes.
3. Arrive early (8:30 AM) to beat the crowds on weekends and holidays (and beat the heat in the summer). Saturdays during the summer are the busiest days.
4. Study the map given to you with your ticket. You will miss much if you just go to the top of the Chimney and depart.
5. Hit the trails! Discover North Carolina mountain hiking trails for all fitness levels. Remember to carry water with you.
6. There are a number of romantic spots along the trails, including the Opera Box the overlooks the Chimney (best vista in the park).
7. Pets are welcome in the Park but must be kept on leash at all times.
8. Restrooms are located in the Sky Lounge, in the Meadows near the ticket center, and the parking lot at the base of the Chimney. There are no restrooms along the hiking trails.
9. Stay in a cottage or cabin nearby.
10. For more information go to the Chimney Rock Web site.
Chimney Rock is located 25 miles from downtown Asheville. Follow I-240 East to Exit #9, Highway 74A East to Bat Cave. Take 74A & Highway 64 to Chimney Rock Village, and the Park entrance is on the right. It's 17 miles east of Hendersonville via U.S. Highway 64.
Hours & Admission
- Adult admission is $15, youth 5-15 is $7, children free.
- Ask the front desk personnel at your hotel or inn for any discount coupons.
- Chimney Rock is open daily Spring, Summer and Fall. During the winter, they close on most Wednesdays and Thursdays. Also closed on major holidays.
For more information go to the Chimney Rock Web site.
After you enjoy the views of Lake Lure from atop Chimney Rock, drive a few miles to the shores of the sparkling lake surrounded by mountains. As you enter the Lake Lure community, you will see the Lake Lure Marina on the left. Stop here for a tour of the lake on a covered boat. Dinner and twlight cruises are available April-October. Or rent a canoe, a couple of kayaks, or the "Love" electric boat to explore the lake on your own.
See our Lake Lure Guide.
Rent a cabin or cottage near Chimney Rock or Lake Lure!