I never realized how outdoorsy I was until I moved out of Maine. Seriously, the average Maine girl makes me look like a wimpy city kid. Then I moved to Greenville, SC.
Now, I realize that there are a lot of Southern girls who hunt, fish, hike, and also generally make me look wimpy. I’ve just never met any–at least not any who were open about it. So it’s hard to find hiking buddies at times.
That stinks, because there’s actually some decent hiking around the Greenville area. It’s not as rustic as the hiking in Maine. You’ll usually find that at least part of the path is paved, and there’s almost always still cell phone service. The Carolinas seem to have no problems sticking cell phone towers on top of the mountains. And they’re not about to stick pine branches in them to make them blend in with the scenery either. But. Adventure is out there.
I needed something to do on the Fourth of July because everything was going to be closed. Even the dining common. As in, I could not just sit around campus because there wasn’t even going to be food. So I sent a text to my uncle and asked if I could join the family’s plans. He agreed and let me know that they would be hiking at Chimney Rock. I was desperate for some wilderness time at that point, so I got really excited.
Chimney Rock State Park is near Asheville, NC–about a 1.5 hour drive from the Greenville, SC area. While some of the trails are everything an outdoors lover could hope for, the climb to Chimney Rock itself is very civilized. Still, the views are pretty.
From what I understand, the park was privately owned for a long time and has only recently become state-owned and operated. There are stairs all the way to the top. Stairs. And there is also an elevator (if they ever get the thing running again… apparently it’s been out of service for quite a while).
We actually took a shuttle to the upper-level parking area before starting the climb. Our final destination was not far away.
This is the other view from the parking lot. The North Carolina mountains are beautiful!
I think I prefer real trails to stairs. We were seriously winded by the time we got this far! Also, since it was the 4th, the whole park was crowded. Which meant the staircase was packed. Which meant you could only go at the pace of the person in front. But it was a good workout.
I made it. And it was worth it.
We made our way back down differently. There’s a gorgeous waterfall in the park, so we went about halfway down the stairs and started the climb up Hickory Nut Falls Trail. This trail was a lot more woodsy and much less crowded. And look at what was at the end of it!
The water falls 404 feet to a pool at the bottom.
The water is crystal clear and super cold, perfect for cooling off after spending the afternoon hiking in the Carolina humidity. We took off our shoes and played in the water for a bit. I know I’m making a weird facial expression, but I’m an awkward human being, and the water was falling in my eyes. It actually felt glorious.
After cooling off in the falls, we headed back down the way we had come, then hiked back down the Four Seasons Trail all the way to where we had parked. The entire trip only took about four hours, and none of it was very difficult.
If you’re looking for an easy hike in the Carolina’s this would be a great place to go! I really enjoyed the experience, and I would definitely go again, especially on a less crowded day.