Outcroppings Trail to Chimney Rock Reopens April 14

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park, one of the Southeast’s most iconic and popular outdoor travel destinations, is scheduled to reopen the Outcroppings trail on Saturday, April 14. The rebuilt trail offers new stunning views of the Park, increased capacity and improved comfort with more places to rest.

The reopening of the Outcroppings trail, which leads from the upper parking lot to the Chimney stairs, permanently restores hiking access to the Chimney, the Opera Box, Devil’s Head and Skyline trail to Exclamation Point, the highest point in the Park. The modernized elevator and Sky Lounge Gift Shop & Deli are expected to reopen sometime later this spring. Discounted admission rates as of April 14 will be $12/adult, $5/youth (ages 6-15) and free for kids under 6.

“NC State Parks is thrilled to see months of planning and years of guest commitment carry this project from a vision into a tremendous reality. The dedication of our construction teams, park staff and our community support has made this exciting project a true success and we are pleased to be able to reveal this incredible new feature here at Chimney Rock State Park,” said Adrienne Wallace, Park Superintendent, Chimney Rock State Park.

“The rebuilt Outcroppings trail offers new perspectives for our guests. It’s like upgrading from a mountaintop gravel road to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s an easier, more enjoyable trek for the family with new stunning views of Chimney Rock and the Gorge,” said Mary Jaeger-Gale, General Manager, Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park.

Awesome Views, Spacious Trail. Upgrading the Outcroppings trail preserves access to the Park’s iconic centerpiece for generations while improving the guest experience. Landings are placed every 12 vertical feet of climb to facilitate rest stops, and the new six-foot-wide stairways, which increase capacity, have a gentler incline to make it physically easier for guests to hike to the Chimney.

A Construction Marvel. Four helicopter airlift missions were conducted to transport tens of thousands of pounds of steel, wood, construction materials and equipment to the trail construction site. The airlifts saved an estimated 6-8 weeks of construction time on the project, which began in December 2011. Dangling from a 250-foot rope attached to the helicopter, large steel columns were carefully threaded between large trees and lowered into new concrete footings with a precision down to inches. The ex-military pilot of Pirate Airlift from Atlanta stated this project was the “most challenging job in 21 years of business.” The general contractor for the trail reconstruction, Taylor & Murphy Construction Co. of Asheville, engineered pulley systems to transport heavy materials up the mountain.

Elevator Modernization. Originally opened in 1949, the Park’s 26-story elevator is nearing its completion in late spring on an extensive modernization project. Almost every part including the original elevator car is being upgraded or replaced. Construction on the adjacent metal evacuation stairs is complete. The Sky Lounge Gift Shop & Deli has been renovated to make its restrooms wheelchair accessible, and it will offer improved retail and food selections. It is expected to reopen simultaneously with the elevator at an unscheduled date.

Restrooms Renovation. Renovation of the Park restrooms on the Meadows and top parking lot to make them wheelchair accessible is nearing completion, and they are expected to reopen later this month. New sustainable fixtures include waterless urinals, low-flow toilets, low-flow faucets with automatic shutoff and automated hand dryers. New sinks and partitions also have been installed. The elaborate interior paintings by Park muralist Clive Haynes will be preserved.

Outcroppings Trail Reconstruction by the Numbers:

§ Total # of Stairs to the Chimney: 491

§ Stairs Rebuilt for Winter 2012 Project: 348 steps; 203 feet of elevation change; 517 feet in length

§ Lbs. of Steel: 82,900

§ Lbs. of Wood: 58,600

§ Bolts & Screws: 16,000

§ Man Hours Worked: 8,800

§ Construction Workers: 14

Friends of Chimney Rock State Park. Want to help the Park create more outdoor recreational opportunities? Join the Friends of Chimney Rock State Park by visiting theirFacebook page or downloading a membership application.

About Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park
Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is a developing international outdoor attraction located 25 miles southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. It has been recognized as one of the Southeast’s most iconic and popular travel destinations for more than 100 years. In 2012, the Park is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the release of The Last of the Mohicans, which was filmed in Chimney Rock. The Park’s 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock 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. A destination for travel groups, weddings and special events, the Park also hosts innovative educational programs for schools, homeschoolers, scouts and summer camps. Visit Chimney Rock’s website at chimneyrockpark.com. More information on current Capital Improvement projects at chimneyrockpark.com/progress or by calling 800-277-9611.