North Carolina is probably one of those states that is under the radar. And one that should be moved to the top as you will learn here. A visit to this state can make an impression on you. And it may change the perception of what you thought it was. One particular area in the beautiful state of North Carolina that is a must see place is Chimney Rock State Park. The inspiration for this visit is coming from the movie “Last of the Mohicans.” Enjoy this scramble through the beautiful Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina.
Movie Inspires Visit To Chimney Rock
This early 1990s movie is definitely the inspiration for my visit here to Chimney Rock. Because if you ever watch it, you will see why. It’s a breathless romantic adventure tale full of thrilling action and a love story. The thing that is incredible about this park is that I am able to explore the spots up close that are in some of the scenes in the movie. So, I am taking you further into this gorgeous place of nature to show you some amazing features here.
In my opinion, this is one of the most adventurous parks in this state. Even the journey getting to the park is an incredible drive in itself. Narrow roads, tree forests, and rock cliff views are breathtaking.
The 8,014-acre park is located 25 miles southeast of Asheville, North Carolina, and is owned and managed by the state of North Carolina. And it is recently named one of the best parks in the nation according to a piece in the Charlotte Observer April 2023.
If you enjoy adventure, then you will certainly love the activities such as hiking. These are some of the hiking trails you will find here and the distance.
Hiking Trails at Chimney Rock State Park
- Riverwalk Trail 0.1 mile easy
- Great Woodland Adventure Trail 0.4 mile easy
- Four Seasons Trail 0.7 mile strenuous
- Hickory Nut Falls Trail 0.7 mile moderate
- Outcroppings Trail 0.2 mile strenuous
- Exclamation Point Trail 0.3 mile strenuous
- Skyline Trail 1.1 miles moderate
- Rumbling Bald Trail 1.5 miles moderate
Chimney Rock Hiking Experience
Once you arrive at the park, you can choose your path upward to the top of the rock shaped Chimney. Because this route is considered strenuous, you can either take the stairs or the elevator (Note: there can be long lines waiting to use the elevator). The elevator ride is: 30-second ride takes you from the parking lot level to the Sky Lounge, our upper gift shop.
From here, you can exit to the bridge where you will find 75-mile views of Lake Lure and the Blue Ridge Foothills. Chimney Rock itself is just a few yards away, although there are 40 stairs required to get to the very top.
Canada Fires and Smoke Plume in the U.S.
- Side Note: Some of these views are a little smoky which is actually from coming from the Canada Fires. Beginning in March, and further intensifying in June, Canada has drier than normal conditions. The fires occurring in mostly Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec creates a huge bloom of smoke. The smoke plume lingers southward into the eastern part of the U.S. This is why you may see hazy scenes in my photos that I include into this article.
However, hazy skies do not impact our experience in this amazing park. The park offers several short but incredible hiking trails. This is what makes Chimney Rock great, because there are several easy trails and lots of access. A trail including Exclamation Point Trail provides access to some of the best views and most well-known geological formations in the park.
Trail Description Up To Chimney Rock
The trail begins directly across from the stairs leading to the Chimney and navigates through the unique cliff-side territory. Climbing about 150 vertical feet, this 20 minute and moderate-to-strenuous hike is mostly uphill. The path here consists of a combination of stairs and switchbacks that lead to a few other admirable points of interest such as the Opera Box, Devil’s Head and Exclamation Point.
Devil’s Head at Chimney Rock
Take notice of the cliff side rock formation in the shape of Satan. This is what they call the Devil’s Head, which faces over top Hickory Nut Gorge below. So, as you can tell, the history of this park is quite interesting just as it is beautiful. The area that makes up the park today at one time is private property.
History of Chimney Rock State Park Property
Around 1902, the land was purchased from Jerome B. Freeman; 64 acres of Chimney Rock, the chimney and cliffs by the Morse family. Even after 100 years, this family is still connected to the park. The Morse grandsons are the directors of the park during the 70s and 80s.
Additionally in 2006, the land is transferred to the North Carolina State Parks. Prior to this event, in late 2005 however; Carolina Mountain Lands Conservancy do work in partnership with The Nature Conservancy to borrow funds to purchase this property for $16 million.
Incredible Scenery from Chimney Rock
What I find most interesting is that the park land is still private land prior to the state purchase during the filming of the hit movie “Last of the Mohicans”. I am totally full of excitement to see this park after watching the movie. Therefore, determination is off the charts for me to find out where this place of nature is. This is why we include Chimney Rock on our epic east coast road trip.
Hickory Nut Falls: Iconic Feature and Scene In Last of the Mohicans
One of the most visible sites at Chimney Rock that is a feature in the movie is at Hickory Nut Falls. When you watch the movie, the scene where the older Indian Chief is in talks with other tribal soldiers, the waterfall is clearly in the background scene.
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Frequently asked questions:
How long is the Chimney Rock Hike? This amazing trail to reach the Chimney is about 1.5 miles, with an 800 foot elevation gain. The trail is so unique and beautiful because it consists of a combination of stairs and rock trail paths.
What is the easiest trail at Chimney Rock? The hiking trail to Hickory Nut Falls is the easiest trail at Chimney Rock. It’s easy because the 1.5 mile round trip path consists of wide smooth gravel and rock trail routes. The waterfall stands 404 feet tall, and is a feature highlight in one particular scene of the movie Last of the Mohicans.
How many steps at Chimney Rock? The trek up to the Chimney Rock formation is approximately 500 stairs. Additionally, in order to offer accessibility to all visitors, there is an elevator.
How far is Chimney Rock from Asheville? Chimney Rock is about 25 miles southeast from Asheville, North Carolina.
Final Thoughts Chimney Rock State Park
Although North Carolina may not be a state that is on your own radar for travel, it certainly should be. Because of its very diverse landscapes and views, this makes it interesting to experience. Whether it be the beaches or mountains, it is amazing from the east coast to the west part of the state. This is why Chimney Rock State Park is one of the highlights of our east coast road trip of 2023. It is truly one of the best parks in the nation in my opinion as well!