Chimney Rock Day Trip from Asheville

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CHIMNEY ROCK DAY TRIP FROM ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
A Love Your Parks Tour Story by Lisa D. Smith & Nancy J. Reid

 

This first installment of Big Blend Radio’s brand-new 1st Tuesday “Adventures in Asheville” series focuses on a Day Trip to Chimney Rock with Steve & Karen Wilson “Mr. & Mrs. Wild of Asheville,” owners and innkeepers of The Lion & The Rose Bed & Breakfast. Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker, Podbean, SoundCloud, and Facebook.

Recorded on-location, this podcast adventure started at Steve & Karen’s inn located in the heart of Asheville’s historic Montford District. It was just a 30-minute scenic drive through farm country to get to our first destination, Chimney Rock State Park, where we met up with Olivia Slagle who led us up to the top of Chimney Rock, a 535-million-year-old monolithic rock formation that stands tall at 315 feet, and 2,280 feet above sea level. The views up there were incredible showcasing the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hickory Nut Gorge, and Lake Lure, not to mention the vultures flying overhead. Now don’t worry if you don’t want to do the actual hike to the top, there’s an elevator that will take you up to the gift shop and deli, and to the base of the 44-step stairway that will lead you up to the crest. The views are spectacular even before you reach the stairway. 

After soaking up the views, it was time to hit the trail. Chimney Rock State Park has a fantastic network of trails, with something for everyone’s activity level. We chose to step out on the Hickory Nut Falls Trail, a popular and moderate 1.4-mile round trip hike that takes you through the forest to the base of the over 400-foot Hickory Nut Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. Movie buffs will be happy to know that this site was one of the locations for “The Last of the Mohicans,” and, just down the road, Lake Lure was the setting for a scene in “Dirty Dancing.” While we love film history, we were excited to not only see interesting rock formations, and all kinds of mushrooms, fungi, and wildflowers, but two species of water snakes sunning themselves together at the bottom of the waterfall. There were three Queen Snakes and two Northern Water Snakes.

After our hiking adventure, we toured the Animal Discovery Den which is home to rescue animals such as Pumpkin the Groundhog, and a beautiful butterfly and monarch butterfly garden. Chimney Rock is also part of the North Carolina Birding Trail and they have an annual Flock to the Rock birdwatching event to celebrate the park’s diverse migratory and resident birdlife that includes peregrine falcons, hawks, warblers, vireos, songbirds, and tanagers. Along with all the birds, the park is home to over 550 species of vascular plants!

Open year-round and offering numerous events and special programs, Chimney Rock State Park is family-friendly and welcomes groups, hikers, outdoor adventurers, birdwatchers, and nature lovers. There’s something new to see with each season. 

Our Chimney Rock adventure continued with a visit to the beautiful Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. Featuring over 2000 species of plants and whimsical art, all cared for by local volunteers, this magical garden has made its home atop the three-arch Historic Bridge #7. Built in 1925, the Bridge was the crossing point between Lake Lure and Chimney Rock until it was decommissioned in 2011. That’s when a group of determined locals worked to get permission from the North Carolina Department of Transportation to preserve the bridge by turning it into a garden. On April 13, 2013, twelve themed gardens were planted in raised beds across the 155-foot span, including rock and succulent, rose, tropical, wildflower, and herb gardens. The Lake Lure Flowering Bridge was officially dedicated on October 19, 2013. Today the Flowering bridge is a National Wildlife Federation certified wildlife habitat, a certified Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch, and a destination on the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail and Appalachian Mural Trail. Open year-round, the garden is free to visit and most of it is wheelchair accessible. 

We finished our day trip with a wine tasting with a Chimney Rock view at the award-winning Burnt Shirt Winery, and a delicious bite and brew riverside at Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery where we watched a heron fish for its supper. Part of Rutherford County, Chimney Rock is a charming and fun village full of shops and dining spots. It’s well worth a day trip from Asheville.

Plan Your Asheville Adventure:

The Lion and The Rose Bed & Breakfast – https://lion-rose.com/

Chimney Rock State Park – https://www.chimneyrockpark.com/ 

Lake Lure Flowering Bridge – https://lakelurefloweringbridge.org/

Burnt Shirt Winery – https://burntshirtvineyards.com/

Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery – https://hickorynutbrewery.com/

Listen to Big Blend Radio’s “Adventures in Asheville” Show air every 1st Tuesday at www.BigBlendRadio.com 

 

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