The Arbor Cabins are 1.5 miles from the entrance to Chimney Rock State Park and Village. For the last 100 years, tourists have journeyed to see this 500-million-year-old towering monolith, to enjoy the dramatic scenery, exhilarating hiking trails, rare plants, native wildlife, and one of North Carolina's highest waterfalls (featured in the movie The Last of the Mohicans).
To reach the top of Chimney Rock, you drive up a three-mile road to a parking area. From there, you can walk through a 198-foot tunnel to an elevator that takes you to the top (up 26 stories in 30 seconds). After a brief introduction by the guide on the elevator, you enter the Sky Lounge gift shop and snack bar. Walk outside to find a short flight of stairs to the top of the Chimney. On a clear day, you can enjoy 75-mile views overlooking Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.
For some of North Carolina’s best hiking, try one of the five main trails. Instead of taking the elevator up or down to the Chimney, you can hike via a maze of fun trails and stairways. The village of Chimney Rock is located at the base of the park, and has a variety of unique shops and local restaurants. One can enjoy a scoop at the ice-cream parlor, go gem mining, or enjoy an afternoon stroll along the River Walk.
Hickory Nut Falls Trail: This "easy" trail is a wide, gently rolling path to the bottom of the 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls. The 1.5- mile round-trip trail is mostly wooded with just a few very moderate uphill sections.
The Outcroppings: Instead of taking the elevator up or down, follow this network of stairs and boardwalks for rock exploring and interesting scenery. Duck through the Subway and cross the bridge from Pulpit Rock to the Rock Pile.
Skyline Trail: Plenty of spectacular scenery is packed into this trail with breathtaking views of the gorge. Ride the elevator or hike to the top of the Chimney. At the staircase leading up to the Chimney, find the beginning of the Skyline Trail. After climbing quite a few stairs, the trail levels out as you walk along the cliff top with dramatic views. See the Devil's Head and pause at Exclamation Point.
The village of Chimney Rock, located at the base of the park, has a variety of cute shops and local restaurants. The primary gift shop in the Park are the Sky Lounge gift shop and Cliff Dwellers Gifts. Chimney Rock Park operates the Old Rock Cafe at the Park entrance. You can get a picnic (Hiker's Lunch) at the Sky Lounge or at the Old Rock Cafe, and picnic along a trail.
The Park is open seven days a week, closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The Ticket Plaza is open 8:30 A.M.-5:30 P.M. (closing at 4:30 P.M. November through March). The Park remains open 1 1/2 hours after the Ticket Plaza closes.
Tips for Visiting Chimney Rock Park
- Take your time. Plan to spend at least a half-day.
- Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.
- Arrive early (9 a.m.) to beat the crowds on weekends and holidays. Saturdays during the summer are the busiest days.
- Study the map given to you with your ticket. You will miss a lot if you just go to the top of the Chimney and depart. Stop by the Cliff Dwellers Gifts, find the Moon shiner’s Cave, or take the Outcroppings Trail to the parking lot instead of riding the elevator down.
- Hit the trails! Discover North Carolina Mountain hiking trails for all fitness levels. Remember to carry water with you.
- Bring a picnic or stop by the Sky Lounge snack bar at the top for a hiker's lunch with sandwich, chips, and drink.
- There are a number of romantic spots along the trails, including the Opera Box near the Chimney.
- Pets are welcome in the Park but must be kept on leash at all times. Due to state health laws, pets are not allowed in the elevator or the Sky Lounge.
- Restrooms are located in the Sky Lounge, in the Meadows near the ticket center, and the parking lot at the base of the Chimney. There are no restrooms along the hiking trails.