All righty...back to the park.
A few years ago the family began to worry for the future of the park with the encroaching development and land deals throughout the area. In order to keep the park a natural place for the public, the family decided to sell the park to the parks division of NC. Just this past year the state acquired the park and added it to their list of state parks. But since the Morse family had run the park so well for more than 100 years, there was no reason not to continue with the family’s involvement. Lucuis’ namesake and grandson continue as the Chairman of the Board while his son, Todd, continues as the President. So today thanks to the State of NC and the Nature Conservatory the park will continue to be a natural refuge in this ever increasing times of land development. Chimney Rock is also a National Historic Site, ever insuring that greedy land developers will keep their mitts off this spectacular site.
Chimney Rock and the movies
Well it is not just us mere common folk that found this place breathtaking. Film makers also like it too. Older film such as Blue Ridge Bandit, The Heart of Blue Ridge, and the Masked Rider have all used this places as the backdrop of the films. But in 1992 it gained national fame as filmmakers filmed many key sequences as they brought to life James Fennimore Coopers classic novel The Last of the Mochians . The film featured extra hunky Daniel Day Lewis and Madeleine Stowe . Sites are listed in the hiking guide as well as Film Junkie’s Guide to NC by Connie Nelson and Floyd Harris (www.blairpub.com).
What to do in the park
Once you get here there are a lot more to do other than hiking, but hiking is the main activity here so here is a bit about the trails:
Skyline-Cliff Trail Loop. This is the most popular trial and offers the most to see. Starting from Chimney Rock you climb up a set of stairs to the Opera Box for a wonderful view of Chimney Rock below you and the mountains surrounding the park. Here you also pass Devil’s Head, Exclamation Point, Pegrins Rest, the top of Hickory Nut Falls, and see where filming for the movie Last of the Mohican's was shot. It is a moderate to strenuous 1.2-mile trip.
Four Seasons is for the hearty adventure enthusiast. The beginning of the trail is located near the parking lot located at the entrance of the park and deposits you on the trail that leads to Hickory Nut Falls. Here you can enjoy all the beauty the park has to offer through the abundance of forest and flowers. It is a 1.5-mile hike and gives you a gain of 400 feet in elevation.
The Outcroppings is a moderate to strenuous .5-mile hike that takes you from the base of the rock to the top. Along the way you pass Needle’s Eye, cross over a bridge to Pulpit Rock and the Rock Pile, and out to the Spiral Staircase. This is the hike you take if you’re not taking the elevator to the top and it is of course the most direct route back down Chimney Rock.
Hickory Nutt Falls Trail is a moderate to strenuous 1.5-mile hike that takes you to the bottom of Hickory Nut Falls. Along the way you are treated to amazing views of the surrounding mountains and there are informational markers that identify the flora and fauna along the hike. You can access this trail either by taking a set of steps just before Moonshines Cave just off from the upper parking lot or just asking the driver of the shuttle bus to drop you off at the entrance.
For the family there is the easy .06-mile Great Woodland Adventure. This introduces children to residence groundhog, Grady, and his woodland friends. There are also handmade wooden and metal sculptures dotted though out the hike.
Now in addition to hiking you can try rock climbing and rappelling. There is a 32-foot climbing tower located near the entrance way parking lot. For those