When you come to Asheville for your vacation, all of Western North Carolina opens up to you. National parks (like the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains), historical towns (like Cherokee and Dillsboro) and several forests (like the Pisgah National Forest and the Dupont State Forest) are close by. Your choices for adventure and exploration are almost limitless.
A short — and scenic — drive through the mountains will bring you to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. Chimney Rock, a tiny town of just over 100 inhabitants, is home to Chimney Rock State Park. Lake Lure, a larger town (with more than 1000 inhabitants), offers more than just the lake. Both towns are worth a visit.
After a hearty breakfast, either in your cabin or at one of the many Asheville-area eateries, enjoy the drive to Chimney Rock State Park. Bring your hiking shoes and be ready to walk… and climb. The hike up the Outcroppings Trail is a 25-minute stroll up to the crest of the rock. If you can climb 31 stairs, you can climb up to Chimney Rock. But there is an elevator if you really need one.
The views from the top of Chimney Rock are exquisite, so bring your camera. You can see Lake Lure and the whole valley stretched out below. The park is also a great place for bird watching. Learn about nature, geology and animals (with Grady the Groundhog). The Hickory Nut Falls Trail follows an easy-to-moderate path that leads to a breathtaking 400-foot waterfall.
Admission to the park is $15 for adults and $7 for kids 15 and under. Children under 5 years old get in free. For hours and other park information, visit www.chimneyrockpark.com.
Just down the road from Chimney Rock, Lake Lure offers fine and casual dining, water sports (including waterskiing) and golfing in a beautiful setting. After a morning hiking up and down Chimney Rock Park, maybe all you want is to relax on the public beach. But you also can rent a boat for an afternoon on the placid lake waters.
If you prefer to be active, try the Rumbling Bald Golf Course, horseback riding at Cedar Creek or ziplining through Hickory Nut Gorge at Canopy Ridge Farm. Lake Lure is a scenic spot no matter what activity you choose — on or off the water.
Getting There Is Half the Fun
You can follow either Route 74A out of Asheville or Route 9 out of Black Mountain (which is just 20 minutes east of Asheville). Both rural routes take you through winding roads and the awakening forests of spring. No matter which way you go, it will take you about 45 minutes to an hour to get to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure.
We recommend driving there on Route 74A and driving back on Route 9, stopping in Black Mountain for a bite, a drink or just a stroll. A Chimney Rock/Lake Lure excursion can be a full day activity and both offer memorable moments for the whole family.