My husband has a brochure problem. Every stinkin’ time we are in a hotel on one of our many adventures, he looks for a brochure display and gets himself a thick stack of them to familiarize himself with the highlights of the area. The car is full of them.
Three years in a row he picked up the one for Chimney Rock. And now we were heading to the Round House we rented in Hendersonville and his dream may actually come true. He has lured me to Chimney Rock with the promise that there is an elevator to the top of the mountain. Cue the music signaling impeding doom.
Chimney Rock is about 25 minutes from Hendersonville. The town of Chimney Rock is a small town near Lake Lure with eclectic shops and eateries lining both sides of the main road that runs through town. On your right, is the Broad River. Being a rock lover, I couldn’t get over the huge boulders in the river! There were tons of places I could see where you’ll be able to eat lunch and wander out to the river. Even gem mining was there!! I love gem mining!!
The entrance is in the middle of town and easy to miss. You cross the river and a gorgeous narrow winding road will lead you up the mountain. You will pass several little grilling areas with picnic tables on your way to the tippy top.
So, here’s where the story picks up. We get to the hut where you pay the fifteen dollar entrance fee and the ranger says there is a discount today…wait for it…because the elevator is broken. At the time I was putting on lipstick, the circles of color just kept getting wider and wider till when my husband looks over we was staring at Bozo the Clown.
“I still want to do it,” he says with a wide grin. I look at the Ranger and he assures me there are places to rest on the way up and a cafe at the top. “I got this!” I said with confidence I didn’t feel. I mean I do Pilates but…
We stopped at the bathrooms at the base of the mountain before going up that last little bit. Have no fear though, if you drive all the way up, there are bathrooms there, too.
We parked towards the top, if you arrive later in the day you will have to park down the hill and be shuttled up by school bus.
There was a guy playing the dulcimer in front of the gift shop, the music added a magical quality to the experience. A couple with an el fresco hot dog stand is on your right and a little further are the bathrooms and beyond that, the beginning of the stairs to Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Falls.
The gift shop was our first stop. I bought myself a t-shirt, “I hiked it and I liked it!” The power of a positive mindset, right?
The journey up the 497 steps was slow going. There were landings you could stop and pretend to look out at the view and catch your breath! I did that once or twice, maybe!
The views are amazing, the rock formations gorgeous, and the history of the mountain just as high and wide. I swear I could hear the star of the movie, The Last of the Mohicans, yell, “I will come for you!” as he jumped through Hickory Nuts Falls. (You can even buy the movie in the gift shop!)
You’ll come across a grotto, a tunnel to climb through called the “subway”, and small bat cave. We explored it all.
At the top, it is not a flat area with a railing. The top has been left with its natural contours and a fence around it. You can stand on one of the outcropping of rock and get a great picture of the 2280 feet of stairs you just climbed.
The cafe is closed in the winter but there is a gift shop, bathrooms, and a place you can get coffee.
Please, don’t just walk by the “emergency wheel barrow” for taking people down the mountain. It puts everything into perspective!
Now, there is another set of stairs to go a smidge higher. We choose to save that for next time!! LOL
Down the mountain is way easier and faster! And honestly, I’m glad the elevator was out, for really real. I would’ve missed the grotto, opera box, subway, and the bat cave. More importantly, the sense of accomplishment was thrilling.
My t- shirt was wrong, I hiked it and I loved it!
Btw, I’m wearing the shirt as I type for inspiration!
Karin – adventurer and story teller!!
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