Life and Religion
|Take a hike and enjoy Chimney Rock State Park|
|Adventure and workout await outdoors|
|Published Sunday, July 14, 2019 1:16 pm|
|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|View from Chimney Rock State Park.|
Hiking around Charlotte can feel like a hassle.
Crowders Mountain State Park is within an hour, but it’s the equivalent of climbing a glorified anthill. The route is simple, with 11 trails to choose from. On a clear day the view extends 25 miles, including the city skyline. However, if you want to exceed Crowders’ elevation of 1,625 feet with a different day trip, try Chimney Rock State Park.
Just under two hours from Charlotte, the drive consists mostly of I-85 and Highway 74 with a few twists and turns closer to the park. Unlike Crowders, there is an entry fee at Chimney Rock. Tickets are $17 for adults, $8 for children ages 5-15 and $45 for a family of two adults and up to three kids. It’s worth every penny. The park is well maintained, with friendly staff and seven trails to choose from. Now let’s look at potential hiking itineraries.
Park just beyond the ticket plaza as you enter the park.
Option one: take the Four Seasons trail, which begins across from the Great Woodland Adventure trail and the climbing tower. Follow the Four Seasons trail from start to finish. It will connect you to the Hickory Nut Falls trail. Turn left. Follow the trail until you come to the bottom of Hickory Nut Falls.
The 404-foot waterfall is among the tallest east of the Mississippi River — you may recognize it from the film “The Last of the Mohicans.” Once you’re done at the falls, head back down the trail. Turn right when you come to a set of stairs, and keep going up. Explore Pulpit Rock and more along the Outcroppings Trail, continuing up toward Chimney Rock itself.
Another perk is how well the park is marked. You cannot miss the 315-foot rock at an elevation of 2,280 feet. Catch your breath, visit the Sky Lounge for a snack, refill your water bottles, use the restroom, and head up Exclamation Point Trail. Visit the Opera Box and Devil’s Head along the way. Eventually, you’ll make your way to the Skyline Trail, which connects with Exclamation Point at an elevation of 2,480 feet. Two major stops on the Skyline Trail: Peregrine’s Point at 2,640 feet and the top of Hickory Nut Falls at 2,590 feet. Word to the wise: Stay on the trail and do not try to try to climb to the edge of the waterfall. The particularly polite park rangers will ask you to turn around – not that anyone encountered this.
Head back the way you came from Skyline to Exclamation Point to Outcropping, taking a left at Hickory Nut Falls Trail, and a right onto Four Seasons, which will lead you back to the parking lot.
Option two: Take a shuttle to Cliff Dwellers gift and begin your journey from there. Follow the Outcroppings Trail to the Exclamation Point Trail, followed by the Skyline Trail. Work your way back along the Outcroppings Trail, take a left onto Hickory Nut Falls Trail, and a right onto Four Seasons Trail. Follow Four Seasons back to the parking lot.
Crowders is closed on Christmas; open every other day; 7 a.m.-6 p.m. December through February.
Chimney Rock schedule: March 10-Nov 2. Open daily from 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. The ticket plaza closes at 5:30 p.m.
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