In the age of COVID, everything is a little different. Hiking is no exception. We recently visited Chimney Rock State Park https://www.chimneyrockpark.com/, in North Carolina, and were happy to see many people adhering to the guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing. Even on the trails, most people put on their mask when passing other hikers on the narrow trails.
For those who didn’t bring a mask, the gift shops gladly sold them for $1.87 plus tax. The number of people in each shop was limited, and there were arrows on the floor directing folks in and out of the shops. There was also an ample supply of hand sanitizer scattered throughout the park. Fortunately, all this did not detract from the beauty that is Chimney Rock State Park.
Getting to the top of Chimney Rock
While there are hiking trails you can take to get to the top, we opted for the free shuttle bus. I say free, but we had already paid $17/person to enter the park, so we figured we might as well take advantage of the shuttle. After all, there was more to this park than Chimney Rock, and we wanted to be able to explore it all!
The shuttle dropped us off at Cliff Dwellers, which was the gift shop. Here you could also pick up the elevator that took you 26 stories up to the Sky Lounge.
Once you exit the elevator, the fun really begins! A short stair climb brings you to the top of Chimney Rock, and breathtaking views from all sides.
After taking in all this beauty, it was time to hike to the 404-foot waterfall. To get to the Hickory Nut Falls Trail, we had to descend the staircase all the way – no elevator ride back down! They ask that the elevator down be reserved for folks who need it for health reasons, something we were very respectful of.
Hickory Nut Falls
The Hickory Nut Falls Trail is 1.4 miles round trip, and considered moderate. This will take you to the base of Hickory Nut Falls.
This waterfall is one of the tallest of its kind east of the Mississippi, and was featured in The Last of the Mohicans. This trail, like all the others is not ADA-compliant, not recommended for strollers, but small children can do this hike. Once you reach the base of the waterfall, there is actual access to the water itself, where you can feel the spray of the water.
If this were the only trail we were hiking, it would have been enough! However, we still had to get back down to the parking lot, and chose to skip the shuttle to hike back down the Four Seasons Trail. It was all down hill, right?! As we descended on this trail, we were really glad we opted for the shuttle and elevator earlier! Even though we were only going about three-quarters of a mile, this trail was listed as moderate to strenuous. It was! Two days later, and we were still feeling the affects of the strenuous descent.
However, the pain was worth it for the spectacular scenery and experiences we had at Chimney Rock State Park.
Jennifer Skinnell is the author of the Hope Springs Romance Series currently available on Amazon. Check out her Amazon page https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Skinnell/e/B0711CDRH5 for all the details.