Climb 800 steps and stunning views await on new NC mountain trail

The new Skyline Trail in Chimney Rock State Park features this view of Hickory Nut Gorge.
The new Skyline Trail in Chimney Rock State Park features this view of Hickory Nut Gorge. Courtesy of Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park

Climb more than 800 steps and stunning views await on a mile-long trail opening this month in Chimney Rock State Park.

The park is about 100 miles west of Charlotte via Interstate 85 South and U.S. 74 West.

Make it up those steps and you’ll get to the new Skyline trail with its lush foliage and spectacular views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure.

Wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water and snacks, park officials advise. All hikers must start from the Skyline trailhead by 5 p.m. – 4 p.m. during Daylight Saving Time – to allow for ample exploring and making it back to their car before the park closes.

The park’s centerpiece attraction is its 535-million-year-old monolith, Chimney Rock. The park also has one of the highest waterfalls east of the Mississippi, Hickory Nut Falls, at 404 feet.

On Sept. 22, the park will officially open the new Skyline trail. The old trail led guests across the upper cliff face to the top of the park’s waterfall, but problems with railings and bridges along the path led to the trail’s closure in 2008.

In 2015, officials decided a new 1.1 mile trail would be built with no structures or boardwalks, Chimney Rock State Park Superintendent James Ledgerwood said in announcing the upcoming opening. “The new Skyline trail travels along a higher route on the mountain, which provides for sustainable natural resource protection and excellent views of Hickory Nut Gorge,” he said.

Midway along the trail, hikers come upon Peregrine’s Point, an overlook where visitors can have a picnic and take in more views.

From there, hikers journey to the end of the trail, where cascades tumble over the mountainside to form Hickory Nut Falls.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak