It’s been a long time coming, but the Skyline trail across the mountain to the viewing area above Hickory Nut Falls has been reworked and is about ready to be reopened.

Annual passholders and Friends of Chimney Rock State Park have been invited to take their promised sneak peek of the trail before it officially opens on September 22.

Pamela Paulus, who attended one of those hikes, was ecstatic about the newly-cut trek. “It was a thrill,” said Pamela. “I’ve been waiting (for this for) years.” Pamela wasn’t the only passholder who was impressed by the beauty of the trail which begins at Exclamation Point. From there, you meander another 1.2 miles through rich forests and over the creek before reaching the end of the trail. Here you’ll be in for an awesome view of the Gorge. In the foreground, you’ll see the cascades that tumble over the mountain side to become 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls.

Halfway out, you can stop and rest, have a picnic or a snack, at a new lookout, Peregrine’s Point. If you’re lucky, you may see a Peregrine falcon riding the thermals high above the cliffs.

“I’m very impressed by how you captured the natural beauty of the gorge,” said Annual Passholder Angela Snyder. Even one of our four-legged friends enjoyed touring the trail. Scooter, a 10-year-old canine, wagged his tail constantly and made it the whole way with his owner.

If you’re planning to come and check it out, make sure you come prepared for the trek. You’ll be climbing up around 800 stairs to Exclamation Point before you ever reach the Skyline trailhead.

As you start your ascent to the Rock and the new trail, you’ll also be able to check out our new expanded deck at the very beginning of the Outcroppings trail that leads to the Chimney. You may have heard about or seen the helicopters flying in and threading steel girders and beams through the trees as a part of this project. It’s scheduled to be open soon. When it’s completed, we’ll have a nice, larger area for guests to rest, picnic and enjoy a variety of programs. Those interested in learning more about the Skyline trail and its wildlife can sign up for a guided hike along the trail on Saturday, Oct. 21. Advance registration is required. To register, call 800-277-9611.

For a chance to attend events like the sneak peek hikes on the Skyline trail, individuals can become an Annual Passholder. To find out more about Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park, visit chimneyrockpark.com or Facebook.com/chimneyrockparknc.

Contributed to The Breeze by Landdis Hollifield, Public Relations and Promotions Manager, Chimney Rock State Park.