By Amber White
If you’re like most of us, you’re still talking about those New Year’s resolutions and how you’re going to get back in (or just in!) shape. Here’s a little reminder – you don’t have to go any further than your local state park to achieve your fitness goals. The hike up to the “Rock” offers some thigh-burning, glute-shaping terrain that is sure to get your heart pumping – that is, if the views don’t get it going first. With trails for every fitness level from easy to strenuous, you’re sure to find something that’s right for you. And if you’re looking for special challenges and opportunities to see Chimney Rock a little differently, our upcoming events are sure to please.
First up is the 10th Annual Race to the Rock, part of the 12th Annual Lake Lure Olympiad. On Sunday, August 14, you can compete in a challenging 5k run or 25-mile bike race that climbs 900 ft. the last three miles (a 7-9% grade) and finishes at the base of Chimney Rock. This is your only chance to run or bike up to the Rock, and it’s not too late to register. Go to LakeLureOlympiad.com and sign up. If you’re not up for that much of a challenge, just plan to get up early and cheer on the competitors. Get here before the road closes, and you’ll get in free.
Want an adventurous workout that’s a little more realistic than riding or running up a mountain? Then our Naturalist Niche: Mountaintop Excursion Hike is for you. On Saturday, August 20, you can get in about three hours of hiking in an area of the Park that few guests get to see. Our very own local naturalist, Clint Calhoun, will give you some insights about the rare plants and animals you’ll find along the top of the mountain. Space is limited for these hikes, so register now to reserve your spot. This workout is strenuous, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes, pack plenty of water and eat a healthy breakfast before you come.
If these hikes and trails still aren’t tough enough, then you might just need the ultimate workout- rock climbing. Inside the Park gates, you can challenge all those major muscle groups as you scale up the face of Vista Rock with Fox Mountain Guides, the Southeast’s only AMGA-accredited guide service. If you prefer unguided rock climbing, Rumbling Bald is just down the road from Chimney Rock and features a mix of granite-gneiss crack and friction climbs, a bouldering spot that brings climbers from around the country.
After you’ve exhausted your body, exercise your brain while you cool down. Our Family Animal Encounters are a perfect way to learn about some of the animals that call Chimney Rock home. Every day at 2pm in August, one of our Park Naturalists and some of our Animal Ambassadors will present a fun, hands-on learning program. You might meet a snake, a turtle, our opossum, Greta the Groundhog, or even our Great Horned Owl or Red-tailed Hawk.
With an Annual Pass that costs less than a one-month gym membership, you can take advantage of our “Ultimate Stairmaster” all year ‘round. Regular jaunts around the mountain will help keep your body and mind active and fit.
Amber White is Admin/Marketing Assistant, Chimney Rock Management, LLC, Chimney Rock State Park.