Hickory Nut Falls

Chimney Rock, North Carolina, USA

About Hickory Nut Falls


Hiking Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2012-10-20
Date last visited: 2012-10-20

Waterfall Latitude: 35.4329
Waterfall Longitude: -82.25955

Hickory Nut Falls was our waterfalling excuse to visit Chimney Rock, which was a 315ft granite rock that offered us gorgeous sweeping views of Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.

The rather light-flowing and feathery falls is said to be over 400ft, and its position high atop the Hickory Nut Gorge made this waterfall visible from the west end of the town of Chimney Rock along Hwy 64.

Chimney_Rock_070_20121020 - Hickory Nut Falls in Chimney Rock Park
Hickory Nut Falls in Chimney Rock Park

From this free vantage point, you’ll definitely need a telephoto lens given that it’s quite a distant view from town.

Getting closer for a more satisfying experience with the Hickory Nut Falls required having to pay to get into the Chimney Rock Park.

Given that the falls did seem to have fairly light flow, it’s hard to say whether this is a seasonal waterfall or just a light-flowing one that happens to be year-round.

Opening and closing hours as well as the cost for the Chimney Rock Park varies so we’ll punt you to their website which you can check out here.

Experiencing the Hickory Nut Falls

Chimney_Rock_004_20121020 - Context of the very busy main parking lot beneath the Chimney Rock (i.e. the monolith with the flag on it)
Context of the very busy main parking lot beneath the Chimney Rock (i.e. the monolith with the flag on it)

We paid about $15 per adult ($30 total) to get into Chimney Rock Park, but if your sole purpose for visiting this place was the waterfall, then I’d argue that the admission price would be a rip off.

Fortunately, there was more to see and do here, and given the stairs that were built to make access to both the rock and the falls much easier and manageable within a half-day, we felt the price was fair.

The Hickory Nut Falls Trail was 3/4-mile each way (1.5 miles round trip).

With the exception of stairs that connected the main Chimney Rock complex with the trail (also accessible from the second-to-last switchback before the main parking lot), the trail meandered gradually uphill for the entire stretch.

Chimney_Rock_040_20121020 - Looking back at steps leading higher up the Chimney Rock Park from the trail leading us closer to the Hickory Nut Falls
Looking back at steps leading higher up the Chimney Rock Park from the trail leading us closer to the Hickory Nut Falls

One section was on a boardwalk that doubled as a bridge because of a hurricane-induced landslide that wiped out the old trail.

Near the terminus of the trail, there was a picnic table with a nice view of the Hickory Nut Falls between Fall colored foliage (see photo at the top of this page).

Continuing on up the stairs, the trail ended on a platform that was quite crowded during our visit.

There was even a trail that deviated from the boardwalk allowing visitors to walk right to the base of the falls and touch the water (being careful not to slip and fall).

Chimney_Rock_052_20121020 - Context of the very busy viewing platform at the foot of Hickory Nut Falls
Context of the very busy viewing platform at the foot of Hickory Nut Falls

Hickory Nut Falls was against the sun in the afternoon, but we came late enough in the day to allow most of the falls to sit in shadow.

However, it was totally against the sun when we saw it from town so we couldn’t take photos from down there, especially considering the amount of traffic down there.

The hike to the falls and back from the main Chimney Rock complex took us about 45 minutes.

Experiencing the rest of Chimney Rock Park

Considering that Hickory Nut Falls is not the main attraction (though it was one of the reasons why we came here), you mind as well check out the Chimney Rock itself.

Chimney_Rock_013_20121020 - Looking down over the top of Chimney Rock in context with its surrounding scenery which hadn't yet hit the peak of Fall colors yet
Looking down over the top of Chimney Rock in context with its surrounding scenery which hadn’t yet hit the peak of Fall colors yet

We had a choice of either waiting in line to go up the elevator or go up the many steps leading closer to the Chimney Rock itself in addition to the panoramic overlooks as well as some of the eccentric rock formations and alcoves in the area.

There was also a cave here, but it was closed during our visit.

Moreover, there were other paid excursions like rappeling off one of the rock faces or climbing up a different rock wall.

Indeed, I could totally see how families or the more adventurous types would want to spend more time here doing these things.

Our visit was pretty much limited to the Hickory Nut Falls and Chimney Rock with some associated overlooks, but there really was nothing stopping us from lingering longer besides time (and money).

Authorities

Hickory Nut Falls resides in the Chimney Rock Park near Chimney Rock in Rutherford County, North Carolina. It is administered by the Chimney Rock Park. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can visit their website.

Chimney_Rock_007_20121020 - Looking up towards Chimney Rock from the entrance area of Chimney Rock Park
Chimney_Rock_009_20121020 - This was the view towards Lake Lure from the end of the main parking lot
Chimney_Rock_010_20121020 - Looking towards a climbing wall across from a picnic tent or something within Chimney Rock Park
Chimney_Rock_037_20121020 - Looking right up towards Chimney Rock from below on the paved walk where we chose to either go up to that rock or continue straight to check out Hickory Nut Falls
Chimney_Rock_018_20121020 - The profile of a vertical cliff that they called the Devil's Head
Chimney_Rock_020_20121020 - The first thing we did when we entered Chimney Rock Park was to get up to the Chimney Rock itself. This was a closer look at Chimney Rock as we were ascending the steps towards it
Chimney_Rock_033_20121020 - Looking down at the steps we took to get up to Chimney Rock
Chimney_Rock_034_20121020 - Looking down at more steps that we took to get up to the Chimney Rock
Chimney_Rock_076_20121020 - Going down these steps to start the Hickory Nut Falls trail
Chimney_Rock_045_20121020 - Our first look at the Hickory Nut Falls after having had our fill of Chimney Rock
Chimney_Rock_049_20121020 - There were some steps that led up to this lookout, but the view of Hickory Nut Falls was blocked by that tree
Chimney_Rock_055_20121020 - Looking up at Hickory Nut Falls from that very busy viewing area at the waterfall's base
Chimney_Rock_064_20121020 - Profile view of Hickory Nut Falls revealing the verticality of the cliffs as well as hints of golden foliage adding color to the scene
Chimney_Rock_068_20121020 - Last look at the Hickory Nut Falls and the very busy viewing deck at its base before we left
Chimney_Rock_072_20121020 - After having our fill of Hickory Nut Falls, we passed by this long bridge, which traversed a landslide caused by a hurricane
Chimney_Rock_077_20121020 - When we returned to the entrance area for Hickory Nut Falls, we noticed that the climbing wall was now being used
Chimney_Rock_078_20121020 - Walking down to where the shuttle tram would pick us up, which was below the main parking lot for Chimney Rock Park

join-booking-970x240-1.jpg


There were a few ways to drive to Chimney Rock Park and the Hickory Nut Falls.

From Asheville, exit the I-40 at the Alt-74 Hwy and take that Hwy directly towards the Hwy 64 for 23 miles to the Chimney Rock Park entrance (in the town of Chimney Rock) on the right.

We actually took a different approach to get to Chimney Rock because we drove from Pearson’s Falls.

Chimney_Rock_002_20121020 - The grassy parking area for overflow parking, which they funneled us into so we can ride the shuttle up to the main entrance of Chimney Rock Park
The grassy parking area for overflow parking, which they funneled us into so we can ride the shuttle up to the main entrance of Chimney Rock Park

So once we got onto the I-26 near Saluda, we then went north for about 10 miles and took the ramp to get onto Hwy 64 near Hendersonville (about 20 miles south of West Asheville).

We then drove about 13.3 miles on the Chimney Rock Rd (Hwy 64) towards a three-way intersection across a bridge at a junction with Hwy 74.

Turning right at the junction, we then drove 2.4 miles east on Hwy 64 into the town of Chimney Rock, where the entrance to Chimney Rock Park was on the right.

Once we turned onto the Chimney Rock Park drive, we followed a long caravan of cars (all of them were visiting the Chimney Rock like us) up a narrow road for about 1.4 miles to a large grassy area about half-way up the overall ascent.

They made us park here because the limited parking space at the top was full.

Chimney_Rock_035_20121020 - Context of the main parking lot for Chimney Rock, which I'd imagine would be attainable if you happened to come here first thing in the morning
Context of the main parking lot for Chimney Rock, which I’d imagine would be attainable if you happened to come here first thing in the morning

So we had to catch one of the shuttles (more like school buses) that frequently went back and forth from here to the main area.

Had we showed up much earlier (or much later in the day) when there wouldn’t be so many visitors, we could’ve continued up the narrow switchbacks to the car park at the top.

Finally, for some geographical context, Asheville was 35 miles (under an hour drive) north of Brevard, 63 miles (about 90 minutes drive) north of Greenville, South Carolina, and 130 miles (over 2 hours drive) west of Charlotte, and 247 miles (4 hours drive) west of Raleigh.

Fixated on Hickory Nut Falls as seen through an opening in the fall foliage


Right to left L-shaped sweep of the falls as I was approaching the closest viewing deck at its base


L-shaped bottom up sweep from right at the viewing deck at its base starting with the view downstream


Top down L-shaped sweep of the falls and viewing deck as seen from the rocky scramble to access the stream beneath the falls

Tagged with: chimney rock, rutherford, hendersonville, north carolina, waterfall, asheville, hickory nut, flat rock, lake lure



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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