Yesterday we drove to Chimney Rock State Park. It was about 17 miles from the campground we were staying at (Lakewood RV Park) but it took a little over a half hour. It was quite a drive as far as curvy roads go. I’m glad we didn’t try and camp up near there as it once again would have been difficult to get there. The incline and curves started a few miles before we got to the park. Once at the park, you have to drive this hairpin road up. I really didn’t know what we would do if another car was coming down because it looked so narrow. But once a truck came down, I realized there was more room than it actually looked.
Once we were at the top parking lot level you have your choice of trails to do (see picture below). We got there when it was still sort of chilly and wore coats, but by the end of the day we were both in t-shirts. It was actually a gorgeous, sunny day so we felt confident we could do quite a bit of hiking. There’s nothing quite like breathing in crisp, cool mountain air. We started at the gift shop level and decided to go to the Chimney Rock level. It was a series of steps. I’m not sure how many, but it seemed like it took forever. You don’t realize just how out of shape you are until you climb 500+ stairs. Going up was a great cardio workout and it really wasn’t that hard. Once there we saw the amazing view of Lake Lure and surrounding mountains. I would have liked a few clouds in the sky for pictures but I can’t complain.
Once at the Chimney Rock level we felt pretty ambitious to go on to the highest point. This is called Peregrins Point (Elevation 2,640). There were some steps to this, but it was mostly an uphill climb. Our goal was to reach the top of the falls but soon realize that this might not be the prettiest view for pictures. I had already filled up 2 SD cards with the view we were facing and wanted to conserve our energy to climb down and hike to the bottom of the falls. At first we somehow thought that the top of the falls and the bottom of the falls trails connected, but after we thought about it, we realized how impossible that would have been. So after we got about halfway on the Skyline Trail (Peregrines Pt.) we turned around and headed back down. I remembered from previous hikes how the downhill decent can be just as hard as the uphill climbs in a different degree of effort. One isn’t really tired in cardio pumping way on the way down, but ohhhh those knee and calf muscles scream….
We got down to the gift shop level and realized we really needed to eat something. If we had researched these hikes a little better before we came, I think I would have packed a few more provisions. I thought these were just a series of staircases that wouldn’t take that long and then we would leave. Live and learn.
After we ate a few snacks and were rested, we were on our way down the Hickory Nut Falls trail. This was a view from the bottom of the waterfalls. The pictures I took didn’t do this place justice. It was spectacular. One thing about North Carolina, there are always waterfalls on just about every hike we go on. This was again an intermediate hike. The Hickory Nut Falls trail started with a series of staircases down. The whole time I’m going down them I’m thinking in the back of my head, “what goes down, must come back up.” After we made it to the bottom, it then starts a hike that climbs and then descends before reaching the falls. This effort was so well worth it. The falls were beautiful. This view just capped off the perfect day….. until we started to get back to the gift shop level. I don’t think I’ve ever felt my knees burn so much as they did trying to get back to our truck. I took my time but I’m still paying for it even today. Advil was my best friend last night lol…
The day didn’t end until we had our official anniversary “dinner.” Most years we plan a special date and try and find a nice restaurant to celebrate. After our hiking, all we could think about was food…. While driving back down the mountain we saw a sign for Old Rock Cafe. Talk about a fine dining…. yes sir you have it at Old Rock cafe haha…. It sort of reminded us of something you would see in touristy Gatlinburg, but it was food and we made a bee line to it. The hamburgers were huge but slightly overdone but you could not beat the view overlooking a rocky stream, and the fact there was a coffee shop right next door. This will be one anniversary dinner for the books for sure lo