Hickory Nut Falls

Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock State Park + 7 Great Tips

Are you looking for tips on visiting ​​Hickory Nut Falls?

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Hickory Nut Falls is nestled within the breathtaking landscapes of Chimney Rock State Park in North Carolina. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photography buff, or just looking for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Hickory Nut Falls has something special in store for you. 

So, grab your hiking shoes, pack a picnic, and embark on a journey to discover the wonders of Hickory Nut Falls and the beauty of Chimney Rock State Park.

Chimney Rock State Park entrance

Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock State Park

To access the falls, you will need to purchase an entry to Chimney Rock State Park.

Address for Chimney Rock State Park
431 Main St, Chimney Rock, NC 28720

Getting to Hickory Nut Falls 

Traveling Distance:

Asheville, NC: 25 miles
Greenville, SC: 56 miles
Bryson City, NC: 87 miles
Charlotte, NC: 95 miles
Knoxville, TN: 137 miles
Winston-Salem, NC: 142 miles
Greensboro, NC: 170 miles
Atlanta, GA: 210 miles
Raleigh, NC: 244 miles

Chimney Rock State Park Entrance

Admission to Chimney Rock State Park 

During peak seasons and busy weekends, visitors may encounter extended wait times and might be directed to park in the overflow parking lot. If individuals find themselves in the overflow parking area, they are invited to utilize the complimentary shuttle service provided for transportation between the overflow lot and the upper parking area.

Entrance Fee

Adults (ages 16-61): $17
Youth (ages 6-15): $8
Children under 6: Free
Family 1-Day Ticket: $45 (available online only)

Annual Passes are also available

For those who plan on visiting the park multiple times throughout the year, it’s worth considering the purchase of an annual pass. 

Chimney Rock State Park

Finding Hickory Nut Falls Trail 

Once you arrive at the upper parking area, head past the entrance to Chimney Rock and take the stairs down; the stairs are immediately after the bathrooms on the right-hand side.  They are on the opposite side of where the Outcroppings Trail starts.

You will take several flights of stairs down. Also, you’ll need to climb these on your way back to the parking lot after your hike, so keep that in mind.  When you get to the bottom of the stairs, the trail is right there, and you will turn left.

Hickory Nut Falls Trail Sign

How to Get to Hickory Nut Falls 

The trail leading to Hickory Nut Falls is well-maintained and relatively easy to navigate. It’s approximately a 1.4-mile round trip, making it accessible for hikers of various skill levels. As you walk, take in the beauty of the lush forest surroundings and watch for any posted trail markers or interpretive signs that provide information about the local flora and fauna.

On average, it takes hikers about 45 minutes to an hour to complete the journey. While it’s family-friendly and suitable for small children, it’s important to note that strollers and wheelchairs are not recommended. The trail features gentle rolling terrain, some rocky sections, and a small set of stairs near the base of the falls.

The trail boasts a diverse array of flora and fauna throughout the year. In spring, listen for the melodies of Black-throated Green Warblers, watch for Scarlet Tanagers, and witness Ravens nesting in the canopy and adjacent cliffs. 

Hickory Nut Falls Trail

Summer brings the bloom of Rosebay Rhododendrons, Wild Hydrangea, and woodland flowers. 

Fall transforms the trail with vibrant autumn colors as leaves change to amber, crimson, and flame-orange. 

Even winter has its own magic, with the north-facing cliffs creating ideal conditions for massive ice formations, sometimes freezing Hickory Nut Falls from top to bottom.

Hickory Nut Falls Trail

About Hickory Nut Falls

Prepare to be awestruck by the 404-foot cascade of Hickory Nut Falls. This majestic waterfall, made famous by its appearance in the epic film “The Last of the Mohicans,” awaits you at the end of the trail. 

You’ll encounter a rare and unique ecosystem at the base of Hickory Nut Falls. The cool, damp rock face serves as a home to various rare plants and amphibians. Take a moment to appreciate the incredible biodiversity thriving in this enchanting environment.

Hickory Nut Falls

What To Pack

  • Comfortable Footwear
  • Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Dress in layers to accommodate changing weather conditions. Check the weather forecast before your hike and consider packing.
  • Hydration: A reusable water bottle is a good choice.
  • Snacks
  • Backpack: A small, comfortable daypack is handy for carrying your essentials and snacks. 
  • Insect Repellent: Depending on the season, insects can be prevalent. Consider packing insect repellent to ward off unwanted critters.
  • Camera 
  • Leave No Trace Essentials: Trash bags to carry out your garbage

Photography Tips 

  • Use a Tripod: A sturdy tripod is essential for capturing long exposure shots of the waterfall, especially in low light conditions. It will help eliminate camera shake and ensure sharp images.
  • Choose the Right Lens: A wide-angle lens is often ideal for waterfall photography as it allows you to capture both the falls and the surrounding landscape.
  • Use a Polarizing Filter: A polarizing filter can reduce glare and reflections on the water’s surface, making the waterfall and the surrounding foliage appear more vibrant. It can also help you achieve longer exposure times for that silky water effect.
  • Early morning or late afternoon is generally the best time for waterfall photography.
  • If you don’t have a DSLR camera, try the long exposure setting on an iPhone after you take the photo.  Just make sure to hold the camera steady while taking the picture.  

Safety and Conservation 

  • Stay on Designated Trail: Stick to the marked trail and paths to protect the fragile ecosystems. Off-trail hiking can lead to soil erosion and damage to plant life.
  • Leave No Trace: Pack out all trash and litter. Use designated restroom facilities before and after you use the trail.
  • Leave Natural Features Untouched: Avoid marking or defacing rocks, trees, or other natural features. Leave them as you found them for future generations to enjoy.
Hickory Nut Falls Trail

Other Hikes near Hickory Nut Falls

✅ Chimney Rock Outcroppings Trail

Want to skip the elevator to the top of Chimney Rock and exercise? Look no further than the Outcroppings trail.  Prepare for an invigorating climb, which boasts a remarkable 494 steps. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views and fascinating features that make each step worthwhile.

During your ascent, make sure not to overlook the Grotto, Subway, and Pulpit Rock. These popular attractions, reopened in the spring of 2015, provide captivating vantage points. From here, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge, the Carolina Piedmont, and the picturesque Lake Lure.

View from Chimney Rock State Park

✅ Skyline Trail

For those with an adventurous spirit and a passion for exploration, the Skyline Trail beckons. This moderate-to-strenuous trek embarks from Exclamation Point and delves into the heart of the backcountry. The trail is approximately 2.2 miles round-trip, out-and-back.

Typically, hikers can expect to spend around 2 to 2.5 hours completing the entire trail. The trail culminates at the headwaters of Hickory Nut Falls; you won’t be able to see the falls, but the views of Hickory Nut Gorge are stunning.

Exclamation Point Trail Sign

Things to do near Hickory Nut Falls | Chimney Rock State Park

There are many great things to do in the area.  Check out our article Things to Do in Lake Lure, NC, for our more in-depth guide. 

✅ Lake Lure Beach and Water Park

Address: 2724 Memorial Hwy, Lake Lure, NC 28746

With 100 yards of pristine sandy beach and a designated swimming area, it’s the perfect spot to bask in the sun, take refreshing dips, and build sand castles with loved ones.

Lake Lure Beach

✅ Chimney Rock Brewing Co.

Address: 461 Main St, Chimney Rock, NC 28720

Located in Chimney Rock Village, just down the road from Lake Lure, this unique taproom and brewery sits on the banks of The Rocky Broad River. With a scenic riverside setting, it offers handcrafted brews and a relaxing atmosphere. Whether you’re a beer enthusiast or seeking a tranquil spot to unwind, this taproom is a favorite among locals and visitors. They have some fantastic food as well!

Chimney Rock Brewing View

✅ Burntshirt Vineyards Tasting Room & Bistro

Address: 438 Main St, Chimney Rock, NC 28720

Located in Chimney Rock Village, a short distance from the entrance of Chimney Rock State Park, the Burntshirt Tasting Room & Bistro is an essential addition to stop and explore. Its covered patio provides exceptional views of Chimney Rock and Hickory Nut Falls. In addition to an impressive wine selection, the establishment also offers a variety of domestic and craft beers and excellent food.

Burnshirt Vineyards

​​Where To Stay near Chimney Rock State Park, NC

📍Carter Lodge – On The River – family-owned, located near the entrance to Chimney Rock State Park; each room offers air conditioning, cable TV, WiFi, and a mini refrigerator.  Enjoy the view of the river.  You are close to all the shops and restaurants as well so you don’t have to deal with parking.  Enjoy the outdoor swings and grills on the back lawn.

📍Grafton Lodge Bed & Breakfast – a charming and cozy retreat nestled in the heart of Lake Lure, NC. This family-owned and operated B&B offers a warm and inviting atmosphere that makes guests feel right at home. The lodge features comfortable and tastefully decorated rooms, each with its own unique character and modern amenities. From the moment you step inside, you’ll be greeted with Southern hospitality and personalized service.

Grafton Lodge Bed & Breakfast

📍Hickory Nut Falls Family Campground – A haven for camping enthusiasts. They offer a variety of options, including RV sites, tent sites, and cabins. Situated off Highway 64-74, across the scenic Broad River, the campground is nestled within the serene Chimney Rock forest, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the flowing river.

Please note several of the RV sites here are seasonal sites, but the daily/weekly RV sites along the river have a gorgeous backdrop.  We personally would only recommend staying in a waterfront RV site; the best thing about this campground is the view and the short distance to Chimney Rock Village.  We personally did not use the bathhouse since we had our own RV.  The campground can use some updates, but the view of the river is incredible.

Hickory Nut Falls: FAQs

📌 How long is the Hickory Nut Falls hike?
It’s approximately a 1.4-mile round trip.

📌 Do you have to pay to go to Hickory Nut Falls?
The falls are part of Chimney Rock State Park; there is an entrance fee.

📌 How tall is Hickory Nut Falls?
404 feet tall. 

📌Is the Hickory Nut Falls trail dog-friendly?
Yes, dogs are welcome but must remain on a leash.

Final Thoughts

No matter the season, the Hickory Nut Falls Trail promises an awe-inspiring adventure. From the vibrant blooms of spring to the frozen splendor of winter, each visit offers a unique experience in the heart of nature.

Prepare for a memorable journey through a mature deciduous forest, where the trail winds through diverse landscapes teeming with life. Nature’s wonders await at every turn, making Hickory Nut Falls and Chimney Rock State Park a treasure trove of outdoor beauty and adventure.

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