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Hickory Nut Falls at Chimney Rock NC

Hickory Nut Falls, in Chimney Rock State Park is the second tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi. The waterfall plunges 404 feet down over a cliffside into a pool at the bottom.  The beautiful, cool, and wooded Hickory Nut Falls Trail leads you through the forest below the cliffs of Chimney Rock, to an observation deck, and pool at the base of the falls.

Location: Chimney Rock State Park, near Lake Lure, North Carolina
Roundtrip Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Features:Beautiful dense hardwood forest, geological features, wildflowers, scenic views, waterfall
Directions:From Asheville, take Highway 40 east. Take Exit 53A to Highway 74, and follow 74 to Chimney Rock Village. The park entrance will be visible from Highway 74 on the right.
Recommended Gear: Good [easyazon_link keywords=”hiking boots” locale=”US” tag=”blueridgemountainlife-20″]hiking boots[/easyazon_link] or shoes, some water, and a digital camera. Bring a bathing suit if you plan to get in the water.

Hickory Nut Falls, Chimney Rock NC

Hickory Nut Falls, Chimney Rock NC
Photo use courtesy of Chimney Rock State Park

The second most visible feature of Chimney Rock State Park, from Chimney Rock village is the 404 foot tall Hickory Nut Falls.   The waterfall is accessible via the Hickory Nut Falls Trail, inside the Park.

This 1.5 mile roundtrip and easy – moderate hike, leads you through the dense woods below the high cliff faces of Chimney Rock, to the base of Hickory Nut Falls.  At the base, you’ll find picnic tables, a large observation deck, and a pool of water deep enough to wade in.

Hickory Nut Falls is one of the “must see” attractions at Chimney Rock, and often draws a large crowd, especially in the summer.

Hickory Nut Falls Base
Visitors enjoying the water at Hickory Nut Falls
Hickory Nut Falls, Chimney Rock NC
Hickory Nut Falls from the Trail

Hickory Nut Falls is also somewhat of a movie star, as it was featured in the blockbuster movie, [easyazon_link identifier=”B009CPJ9OM” locale=”US” tag=”blueridgemountainlife-20″]Last of the Mohicans[/easyazon_link].  In fact, the last 17 minutes of the movie were filmed in Chimney Rock State Park, both at the top of Hickory Nut Falls, and along the old Cliff Trail that used to take you there.  Sadly the trail is not longer open.  

The climactic fight scene at the end of the movie was filmed just feet from the top edge of Hickory Nut Falls, and Hickory Nut Gorge is clearly visible in the background.

Hickory Nut Falls Trail

Hickory Nut Falls Trail is the 1.5 mile roundtrip trail to the base of the falls.  The trail begins at the trailhead, just below the Chimney Rock parking lot.   There used to be a set of stairs that lead down from the Chimney Rock parking lot level, but those stairs are currently being rebuilt.

Hickory Nut Falls
Hickory Nut Falls, from the trail

As a result, you’ll have to walk down to the bottom of the parking lot, and around the turn and down the road a bit to the trailhead, which is clearly visible.  There is no parking around the trailhead itself.  Parking is only available in the main parking lot.

The trail takes you through the dense forest below the cliffs of Chimney top.  If you look up through the tree canopy, you’ll see the cliffs rising high above you.  The trail makes a gradual include up to the base of Hickory Nut Falls.  

As you hike, you’ll see a number of interesting geological features, and signs with educational information about the various features.  If you pay attention, you’ll also see many different types of birds, and wildflowers as well.  

Dogs are welcome in the park in general, and also on this trail.  They just need to be on a leash at all times.

Admission to Chimney Rock State Park is required in order to access and hike this trail.  See our Chimney Rock State Park Guide for more information on tickets, and other trails in the park.

Hickory Nut Falls Video

Here is a video I took at the falls during our recent visit (May 2017).  My apologies for the background noise, there were lots of people.

Hickory Nut Falls Photo Gallery

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About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.


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