“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
The family and I recently returned from a three day trip in Chimney Rock, North Carolina. On Friday night, we arrived tired and hungry at the Evening Shade Lodge. The lodge was quaint and fairly basic. Photos on the internet can be quite deceiving. I pictured the place being more remote than it was, but I will say the people were very nice and accommodating. Behind the lodge flowed the Broad River which snaked beautifully through and around car-sized boulders. Along the river bank, we held a magnificent view of the Hickory Nut Falls (famous from the movie, The Last of the Mohicans) and the mountains of Chimney Rock Park. Just down from the lodge, across from Lake Lure Beach, we dined at a place called Alyssa’s. They served great food.
Saturday morning we set off to the Blue Heron Whitewater Rafting Center. Perfect weather accompanied us that morning, and we rafted for 2 to 3 hours. Mostly consisting of class 1 and 2 rapids, the river does contain 1 or 2 class 3’s. The longer trip boasts of a class 4 rapid and, hindsight, I wish we had taken the extended trip. The French Broad is comparable to the Nantahala and was definitely less intense than the Ocoee River. It was not as cold, however, as the Nantahala. Coursing over 200 miles from North Carolina into Tennessee, The French Broad is a free-flowing river. That evening, we ate supper at the Fishermen’s Quarters Seafood Restaurant, located in Hendersonville (12 miles from Chimney Rock).
On Sunday morning, we woke up, ate a light breakfast, and drove down to the park. We discovered that the elevator going up to Chimney Rock was closed, so my son, daughter and I walked the 460 steps to the top. What a reward when we made it topside. The views were remarkable—75-mile panoramic scenery. On a humorous note, my son dropped his LG cell phone from the top of the granite column, and it fell about 200 feet. It landed only yards from another tourist and surprisingly, works fine.
After recovering from the Chimney Rock climb, we hiked the Hickory Nut Falls trail and soon found ourselves at the base of the 404 ft. waterfall. Several other hikers had beaten us there and were enjoying a refreshing shower under the cool waters. We rested at the falls for several minutes, admiring its beauty and the majesty of it all. For lunch, we headed back to Hendersonville and stopped at Binion’s, a great steak restaurant.
Chimney Rock Climb – this is literally 460 wooden steps to the top. The staircase wraps around the ancient monolith. There are several places to rest and catch your breath. (Note: elevator was out-of-order)
Hickory Nuts Fall Trail – a 1.5 mile trail, round trip. A very easy, wide trail.
Four Seasons Trail – a 0.6 mile moderate-to-strenuous trail. We did not hike this one, but from the description, it winds through hardwood forests, and past thickets of mountain laurel and Carolina Rhododendron.
Outcroppings Trail – this was closed for maintenance, but is normally accessed via the stairs.
Great Woodland Adventure Trail – designed with children in mind, this 0.6 mile trail features 12 discovery stations.
Medina’s Village Bistro
Old Rock Café
Larkin’s On the Lake
Alyssa’s Restaurant and Bar
Fishermen’s Quarters Seafood Restaurant
Binion’s Steak House
Outback Steak House
Evening Shade River Lodge & Cabins
Lodge on Lake Lure
The 1927 Lake Lure Inn & Spa