Lake Lure was on the main highway between Charlotte and Asheville until U.S. 74 was rerouted and interstates came along. But this beautiful area of western Rutherford County never lost its appeal to vacationers and the acquisition of one of its hallmark attractions by the state park system adds to the overall appeal.
In 2007, the state acquired privately-owned Chimney Rock, a mountain with sky-high rock formations that include needle-like Chimney Rock, Devils Head and Exclamation Point (www.chimneyrockpark.com).
Hiking is the thing here especially walking the stairs to the top of Chimney for stunning, 75-mile vistas. (An elevator to the top that has been closed for repair/upgrade will reopen this spring; various trails also closed for repair have already reopened). A great series of trails covering more than four miles can be connected for longer routes. Among the hikes, dont miss the lateral trail that leads to Hickory Nut Falls. The 404-foot drop is stunning; the view from its pool looks like something from a Maxfield Parrish poster.
Go before the elevator reopens and admission is $12; $5 for kids. After, it will be $15 and $7, respectively.
Down below youll see the little tourist burg of Chimney Rock, and, to the east, beautiful Lake Lure. On the far side of the lake is Rumbling Bald mountain, a huge slab the state purchased from the N.C. Nature Conservancy for its Chimney Rock State Park program.
On the lake shore closest to Chimney Rock is the fabled Lodge on Lake Lure (www.lodgeonlakelure.com) a historic tourist destination that over the years has attracted its share of high rollers, honeymooners and Hollywood (parts of Dirty Dancing were filmed there.
Got clubs? Golfing is very big in these parts.
Area info: www.hickorynut.org.