Climb to New Heights at Chimney Rock State Park
Fox Mountain Guides will help you conquer climbing at Chimney Rock.
DISTANCE: 93 miles, 1 hour 45 minutes
ADVENTURE LEVEL: 7 (Have a fear of heights? Trust issues? Move along. This is not the adventure for you.)
A smokestack-shaped monolith stretches toward the horizon, announcing the splendor of Chimney Rock State Park for miles. While it’s possible to ride an elevator to the top to take in panoramic views of Lake Lure, scaling up the side of a rock outcropping provides a different perspective (and an adrenaline rush). Fox Mountain Guides and Climbing School offers rock-climbing experiences in the 1,000-acre park, teaching beginners climbing basics such as knots, crimping, and rappelling, while challenging experienced climbers to push their limits. Scrambling up Coal Miner’s Slab or Vista Crack—routes that are part of a two-hour climbing package—will test your stamina (and, if you slip, the strength of the rope). —J. H.
REST UP: Thanks to the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, the Lake Lure Inn and Spa is one of the town’s most prized landmarks. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey stayed at the inn during filming, and two cabins—Johnny’s Cabin and Baby’s Bungalow—are favorites. Several of the 69 guestrooms in the historic inn have Jacuzzis, perfect for soaking sore muscles after a climb.
GEAR UP: Fox Mountain Guides provides all of the gear, including shoes and harnesses, for climbers. Bubba O’Leary’s General Store & Outfitters in Chimney Rock Village sells clothing for outdoor enthusiasts (but no climbing shoes, ropes, or harnesses).
REFUEL: Fueling up on carbs—like the cinnamon rolls that Medina’s Village Bistro is famous for—will give you the energy to scale granite. No sweet tooth? The locally owned restaurant cooks up hearty favorites like roasted red pepper soup and biscuits and gravy.
CHICKEN? Lace up your hiking boots and explore the trails in Chimney Rock State Park. The Outcroppings Trail, a strenuous hike that leads to the top of “the rock,” requires climbing up 26 flights of stairs (helping the trail earn the nickname “the ultimate StairMaster”). Burning quads are a small price to pay for the spectacular view. You can always take the elevator back down. Adventure Level: 2 (C’mon. There’s an elevator if you need it.)