CHIMNEY ROCK, N.C. (May 30, 2015) — The Subway, Grotto and Pulpit Rock, long-time popular features on the Outcroppings trail at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park, have reopened after being closed since 2008.
The features offer incredible views of Lake Lure, the Hickory Nut Gorge and the Carolina Piedmont that are unique to the Outcroppings trail. Guests can hike a spur of the Outcroppings trail that circles through the three points of interest. Views of the Gorge, Lake Lure and the Carolina Piedmont as well as the “Rock Pile” can be seen from Pulpit Rock. The Grotto offers a shady place to sit and relax while viewing the Carolina Piedmont and Lake Lure. And folks will have fun walking through the tunnel of rock known as the Subway. Access to these features is provided by two different entry points as guests walk up or down the Outcroppings trail.
“We’re thrilled to be able to welcome our guests to the Grotto, the Subway and Pulpit Rock,” said Mary Jaeger-Gale, General Manager of Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. “I think folks will be pleasantly surprised at the amazing views they’ll be able to see. NC State Parks and NHM Constructors were incredible partners in making this happen. We couldn’t be more pleased to reopen these areas to the public.”
“The renovation of popular visitor features to make them safe and attractive is a priority at Chimney Rock State Park,” said Mike Murphy, state parks director. “We’re confident our visitors will find the park more enjoyable than ever with an ever-expanding list of activities.”
Chimney Rock Park was bought by NC State Parks in 2007, and shortly afterward an inventory was done to determine the condition of the trails and Park structures. Several did not meet state construction standards and were closed until improvements could be made. Access to the Subway, Grotto and Pulpit Rock were closed at that time. But, as noted in the State Parks’ Master Plan for Chimney Rock State Park, these destinations along the Outcroppings trail were to be redesigned, rebuilt and reopened.
In December 2014, a crew with NHM Constructors, LLC out of Asheville began to rebuild the stairs and boardwalks, restoring access to these unique features along the trail that leads to the “Rock.” The work was no easy task: materials were brought in by truck and carried up the mountain. A helicopter flew several loads of materials to the site over the course of a few non-consecutive days, during which the Park was closed to the public. The tricky and risky work required the pilot to thread the materials down through trees for the crew on the ground to put in place. Harsh winter weather also posed obstacles to construction progress, but the crew was still able to complete the work close to their original projected date of late spring.
The features were reopened in time for Memorial Day weekend, allowing guests to experience spectacular new views of the Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure, including Round Top Mountain and Rumbling Bald Mountain.
About Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is a developing international outdoor destination located 25 miles southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. It is recognized as one of the Southeast’s most iconic sites and popular travel destinations. The Park’s 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock can be accessed via a 491-step Outcroppings Trail or a 26-story elevator and offers guests 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The Park features one of the highest waterfalls of its kind east of the Mississippi River, Hickory Nut Falls, at 404 feet. Hickory Nut Gorge, one of the state’s most significant centers of biodiversity, is home to 36 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species. The Rumbling Bald section of the greater State Park off of Boys Camp Road in Chimney Rock is the only other area of the Park that is currently open to the public. A destination for travel groups, weddings and special events, the Chimney Rock section of the Park also hosts innovative educational programs for schools, homeschoolers, scouts and summer camps. Visit Chimney Rock’s website at chimneyrockpark.com.