Where is Chimney Rock State Park
Tucked away in western North Carolina, Chimney Rock State Park is located in Rutherford County. The state park contains a system of hiking trails, views of nearby balancing rock, Hickory Nut Falls, and the Rocky Broad River. The park’s premier feature, a granite monolith referred to as Chimney Rock, provides its name. Chimney Rock State Park is located about 20 miles south of Asheville, 95 miles west of Charlotte, and 245 miles southwest of Raleigh. Other nearby outdoor recreation areas include the Pisgah National Forest, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and South Mountain State Park. Chimney Rock State Park is maintained and managed by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.
How Large is Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock US State Park covers over 8,000 acres of countryside and diverse forest communities. The park’s namesake granite monolith is 315 feet tall and the Hickory Nut Falls are 405 feet tall. Chimney Rock State Park contains over 20,000 feet of creeks and falls and provides habitat for a variety of wildlife species. These species include endangered bats, endangered salamanders, peregrine falcons, a variety of other birds, and many other species. Chimney Rock State Park is also a haven for wildflowers. In fact, more than 500 species of vascular plants are known to grow in the park.
Chimney Rock State Park Weather
Chimney Rock State’s Park experiences seasonal changes. In the summer, temperatures in the park range from 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, the park’s temperatures average between 20 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The hottest temperatures in the park occur in June, July, and August. The coldest temperatures occur in December and January. On average, the park receives around 80 days of rain per year, and the average snowfall in the park per year is 2.5 inches. Chimney Rock State Park also attracts visitors who are looking to experience North Carolina’s fall colors. Fall foliage normally starts to appear in the park around late September or early October.
When did Chimney Rock Become a State Park
A combination of what was once private land and land owned by the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Chimney Rock State Park was officially signed into action in 2007. A large portion of Chimney Rock State Park was once referred to as Hickory Nut State Park. Other sections of the park were privately managed recreation areas from 1902 to 2007.
Things to do in Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock State Park offers its visitors a variety of activities set in the North Carolina mountainside. The List of Park’s most popular adventures are listed below:
Exclamation Point Trail
Starting at the Chimney Rock Access Area, the Exclamation Point Trail takes visitors to the top of the Hickory Nut Gorge. This .60-mile hike contains natural surfaces, gravel walkways, and several staircases. The culmination of the hike is the arrival at the edge of Exclamation Point. Visitors will be at 2,480 feet when they reach the point. The hike is a loop hike and is rated as strenuous.
Hickory Nut Falls Trail
The Hickory Nut Falls Trail located in Chimney Rock State Park takes hikers directly to the base of Hickory Nut Falls. The trail also offers dramatic views of several cliffs in the area. Visitors looking to hike the Hickory Nut Falls Trail will want to begin at the trailhead located in the Chimney Rock Access Area. The trail is 1.4 miles long and rated as moderate.
The Outcroppings Trail gives visitors the opportunity to see Chimney Rock State Park from the top of Chimney Rock. This trail features several staircases and lookout points that ascend through a boulder field. In the summer this trail can get crowded, especially on weekends. The Outcroppings Trail is .4 miles long, rated as strenuous, and can be accessed from the Chimney Rock Access Area.
Weed Patch Mountain Trail
The Weed Patch Mountain Trail is the longest trail in Chimney Rock State Park and can be accessed from the Eagle Rock Reserved Parking Area. This trail connects Chimney Rock State Park and Buffalo Creek Park. Containing 8.5 miles of rugged terrain through several wilderness areas, a round trip hike of Weed Patch Mountain would total 17 miles and take several hours to complete. Visitors choosing to hike the Weed Patch Mountain trail should be in excellent shape and equipped with plenty of water.
Chimney Rock State Park offers mountain biker’s access to the Weed Patch Mountain Trail. Biker’s looking to embark down the trail can either park in the Eagle Rock Parking Area or at Buffalo Creek Park. Each spot has a limited number of parking spots and fills up quickly.
Anglers visiting Chimney Rock State Park will want to try their luck in the Rocky Broad River. A valid North Carolina Fishing license is required to fish in the Rocky Broad River, and all state fishing regulations apply throughout the park. More information regarding tout season and other regulations can be found on the state department’s website.
There are two areas in Chimney Rock State Park where climbing is permitted. These areas include the south face of Rumbling Bald Mountain and Eagle Rock. All climbing in the park operates on a permit system. Permits can be found and obtained near park trailheads.
When to Visit Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock State Park is open year-round. Spring and summer are great for hikers. Warm temperatures fall upon the park throughout the seasons. Wildlife is the most active in the park during the spring. Fall is a great time to visit the park to enjoy the season’s colors. Trees in Chimney Rock State Park normally start to undergo changes in late September or early October. Visitors looking to avoid crowds in the park should visit in winter when visitation is at its lowest.
Must Have Items to Bring to Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock State Park is best experienced with the help of a few pieces of equipment. Our National Park Visitors Guide has listed the most important pieces below:
Water and Electrolyte Beverages
Water and electrolyte beverages can be very helpful in Chimney Rock State Park. Summer temperatures can dehydrate visitors in the park very quickly. It's best to keep some kind of electrolyte beverage and a supply of water on you while in the park.
High Energy Snacks
The best snacks to carry along with you when recreating outdoors are lightweight and full of energy. Beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit, and protein bars are crowd favorites.
Anglers visiting Chimney Rock State Park will want to bring their rods, reels, and freshwater fishing tackle with them to the park. Fishing in the park also requires a North Carolina fishing license. This license can be purchased online.
Experienced climbers will want to remember to bring all of their climbing equipment, shoes, and clothing along with them to Chimney Rock State Park in order to climb Eagle Rock and Rumbling Bald Mountain.
Chimney Rock State Park offers no in park mountain bike rentals. However, several outfitters in the area can supply bikes, helmets and other equipment necessary to bike down the Weed Patch Mountain Trail. Bikers with their own mountain bikes and equipment should remember to bring it along with them on their trip.
Sturdy Hiking Boots
Most of the trails in Chimney Rock State Park involve hiking on unstable terrain. A pair of sturdy hiking boots is recommended for any visitor who hopes to take on the park’s trail system. Lightweight, breathable, and waterproof are the best. These pairs of boots may be more of an investment at first, but will last longer and provide your feet more comfort than less superior pairs that are on the market.
Chimney Rock State Park contains 10 different hiking trails. A few of these trails intersect each other at several points and can become confusing to navigate. Visitors can download park maps from the park’s website or consult the park office for a physical copy.
Where to Stay in Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock State Park currently does not offer any overnight camping in its boundaries. However, that may change in the near future. The park plans to create several backcountry camping sites in the coming year. Visitors looking to camp near the area can check out the Pisgah National Forest or several private campgrounds near Chimney Rock State Park. Visitors looking to stay in a hotel should make the short drive to Asheville.
Food Near Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock State Park contains a concession stand and restaurant. The Sky Lounge Concession Stand serves sandwiches, ice cream, and drinks. The Old Cafe located near the park’s main gate serves a full menu of food, drinks, and dessert. Visitors looking or other restaurant options or a larger culinary scene should visit Asheville. The city’s downtown area contains several restaurants that serve local inspired dishes.
Airports Near Chimney Rock State Park
The closest international airport to Chimney Rock State Park is located in Charlotte. The airport is 93 miles and almost a two-hour drive away from the park. Atlanta, Georgia contains the next closest airport at 209 miles away. Further options include airports in Raleigh and Charleston, SC.