Chimney Rock Park is an ideal stop on your into or out of Asheville if you want to breathe the fresh mountain air and hike trails that have an excellent payoff. Tourists and locals alike trek to this Park, however, most tourists skip all the lower trails in favor of the main draw: Chimney Rock.
Chimney Rock is a fantastic formation that offers up to 75-mile wide views on a clear day. You can see 360-degrees of lovely mountains, hardwoods, blooming flowers, Hickory Nut Gorge, and Lake Lure. In other words, you can pretty much see the entire view you’d want in the mountains from one point – and Chimney Rock isn’t even the highest viewpoint from which to take it all in. Skipping Skyline Trail, the smaller trail off the staircase that leads to the Opera Box, Devil’s Head, and Exclamation Point, would be the first mistake. Tempting, sure, especially after you’ve climbed the 500 stairs to Chimney Rock, but the best views are still to be had. It’s a formidable trek for the less fit and the fit, but it’s worth it.
The second mistake would be to avoid any of the trails below, but especially that of Hickory Nut Falls Hike. The Hike ends exactly where its namesake begets: at the Falls. Hickory Nut Falls are famous for their appearance in the final scene of The Last of the Mohicans (1992), but ought to be visited in their own right. Their beauty, like that of most waterfalls, is most astounding after a heavy rain when the waters gain weight and speed. The trail to the waterfall is wide, easy to meander, and is about a mile and a half round trip with a picnic table and plenty of places to sit at its end. The Falls are an ideal place to take a snack and enjoy the view or to cool off in the mist during the hot summer months.
– M. Ray Hall