Travel

Chimney Rock State Park

The granite monolith called Chimney Rock has attracted visitors for more than a century.
The granite monolith called Chimney Rock has attracted visitors for more than a century. CHUCH HILL PHOTOGRAPHY

“Excuse me, while I kiss the sky.”

That lyric from Jimi Hendrix might come to mind if you visit the top of Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. Its iconic spire rises some 1,200 feet above the Hickory Nut Gorge. On a clear day, views can be incredible.

If you want an easy view, take the elevator (once the tallest in the state) and then a manageable walk up to the top. Want some exercise? Try the Outcroppings Trail, a heart-pounding, 26-story Stairmaster type of excursion.

In addition to its sheer beauty, the park, which became a part of the state park system in 2007, offers a wealth of nature across a wide range of flora and fauna.

A great series of trails covering more than 4 miles can be connected for longer routes.

For the more adventurous, the park offers rock climbing instruction.

Open year-round, the park offers a wide range of programming; summer months have some great offerings. Programs are free with admission to the park ($15; $7 for ages 5-15).

You won’t be able to do it all in one visit.

But for a place like Chimney Rock, why would you want to?

Park details: www.chimneyrockpark.com.

Along the way …

Stop in Lake Lure, with its famous Lake Lure Inn & Spa (www.lakelure.com ) and flowering bridge (www.lakelurefloweringbridge.org). Chimney Rock Village (www.chimneyrock.org) offers locally owned stores selling everything from kitschy souvenirs or keepsake treasures to ice cream cones.

If you’re hungry/thirsty …

The park’s Old Rock Café in Chimney Rock Village, next to the Rocky Broad River, has indoor and outdoor dining. Its menu is basic American style but tasty and affordable; perfect for a family.

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