Friday, June 7, 2013

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock in North Carolina
Noelle had to take her car to the Subaru dealer because of a recall and so we used the recall as an excuse to head over the mountains to Asheville. Noelle dropped her car off at the dealer and I picked her up and we headed out. First we headed over to REI. I bought a map and we got a pair of baby sunglasses for Sierra. We also checked out a really cool toy store near REI and got lunch at the delicious Neo Burrito.

After lunch it was a bit drizzly and overcast, but the sun seemed to be peeking out of the clouds and so we decided to head east to Chimney Rock State Park near the town of Bat Cave, North Carolina.
Bat Cave, North Carolina Post Office
After passing through Bat Cave we drove along the pretty Rocky Broad River. We crossed the river and headed into the park. The entrance fee was a whopping $12 each for Noelle and I. It would have been $15 dollars each but the trail to Hickory Nut Falls is closed due to a rockslide. It is unfortunate that the trail to the falls was closed though, as you get a distant view of the falls from the highway and it is quite impressive. It looks like something out of Yosemite.

After paying our entry fee and driving up the mountain we found ourselves at a large parking lot with a decent view of Chimney Rock itself.
Chimney Rock from Below
Before hitting the trail though, we fed Sierra her lunch. As we did a little bit more blue showed itself in the sky. After lunch we hit the trail. We soon passed the Gneiss Cave
Nice Cave!
and then started our ascent up many stairs.
Stairs up Chimney Rock
We stopped for a short time at the Birdhouse that had some information about some of the native birds in the area. On top of one of the wooden bird silhouettes a bird had built a nest.
Bird House in the Birdhouse
It really is a “birdhouse”. Near the birdhouse was a nice overlook called Vista Rock.
Noelle at Overlook
The Hickory Nut Gorge is really impressive: deep with sheer granite walls in places.
Hickory Nut Gorge
We got a great view of the gorge and Lure Lake, an unimpressive, man-made reservoir. 

From Vista Rock it was more steep, stair climbing up to Chimney Rock. There was another impressive view from Chimney Rock and two ladies who were smitten with Sierra took a family photo of us on top.
Chimney Rock Family Photo
After our photo we looked around the rock for a bit
Graffiti at Chimney Rock
and then headed higher yet up the Skyline Trail. We stopped at the Opera Box and Devil’s Head
Devil's Head
before climbing up to Exclamation Point and yet another great view of the Hickory Nut Gorge.
Noelle at Exclamation Point
Hickory Nut Gorge
Evening Primrose
After a few minutes on Exclamation Point we started to make our descent. I must say that I really was impressed by Chimney Rock. It is clean and well-maintained. However, I do believe that the entrance fee is a bit too steep, especially considering it is now a state park. That being said I would like to return some day when the trail to Hickory Nut Falls is reopened. 

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