Chimney Rock is the 535-million-year-old monolith for which the Park is named and is considered to be one of the most iconic sites in North Carolina. From its top, at 2280 feet above sea level, there are 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure.
Overall I thought this state park was a great place to visit and would go back. I didn’t do much research before visiting so I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was truly a fantastic spot to be out in nature. The views were stunning and I highly recommend! Be ready to get a glute workout in because the incline + steps is a serious workout. I would love to go back in the fall because the view with fall foliage must be AMAZING.
There are a few options to get you to the top depending on how adventurous you are feeling.
Step 1. Getting to the top parking lot. It is currently closed so to get from the base to this point you can either hike or take the shuttle.
Hike. We took the Four Seasons trail which is short but not easy. I would say it is a moderate trail for those who are in shape but would not suggest it if you are out of shape or have any kind of knee problems. The Four Seasons trail is around 2/3 mile and takes you up steep inclines the whole way (400 foot rise).
Shuttle. I had planned to do the hike no matter what but upon seeing the shuttle situation I was glad that was my plan. The line for the shuttle to go up was super long and would have required a wait. The park has taken precautions to close off rows on the bus in an attempt to create some distancing but at that end of the day you are going to end up being in close proximity to people on a bus.
Step 2: Getting from the top parking lot to the top. You can either take the stairs or the elevator.
Stairs. There are a lot of stairs….like A LOT! The Outcroppings trail takes you up 494 steps. There are places to take a break along the way if needed.
Elevator. I didn’t even realize there was an elevator until the end so I didn’t have any experience with this but from what I heard the elevator up is by family only and everyone is socially distanced. You must walk down the stairs though and cannot ride elevator on the way down unless you have a physical disability.
Pricing: $17 per adult. Side note: If you do not want to bring your wallet in with you, they do accept Apple Pay at the store at the top.
Warning: Keep in mind that state parks are limiting capacity due to Covid so be sure to get there early. The entrance to the park is closed when capacity is reached and they only start letting additional people in when a certain number have left (not on a one to one basis). I would also check their site before you go because sometimes the elevator is down and not an option.
Chimney Rock, NC has a cute strip of shops and restaurants but parking can be a hassle if it is super busy. Dining options are somewhat limited if you want to eat in Chimney Rock. The highest rated is Medina’s Village bistro if you are looking for a lunch spot but beware it gets busy and is only open from 11 AM – 2 PM. If you are looking for an adult refreshment post hike I would suggest either Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery or Burntshirt Bistro and Tasting Room.
Lake Lure is right next to Chimney Rock and has some additional options. In Lake Lure you will be fighting the crowds visiting the Lake Lure Beach and Waterpark.