Chimney Rock State Park seeks input on Master Plan

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

As part of the process to create a master plan for Chimney Rock State Park in the Hickory Nut Gorge, the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation will conduct a public planning session on May 26 at the Lake Lure Town Hall. Citizens are invited to visit the drop-in session anytime from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Proposed design alternatives for the state park will be presented and the public will be able to ask questions and offer comments to officials of the state parks system and Greenways Inc., a Durham-based environmental planning and landscape architecture firm responsible for completing the plan.

“Creating a world class state park at Chimney Rock has been and continues to be a partnership effort between the state parks system and the community,” said Lewis Ledford, division director. “Chimney Rock State Park has benefited from strong support in the community, and it’s important that citizens continue to be involved in the process.”

A state park’s master plan is essentially a blueprint for long-term development of facilities and recreation opportunities and a guide for protection of natural resources. It is meant to be an organic document, evolving as the park grows and as knowledge is gained about a park’s natural resources and public use.

The master plan could help the agency decide how the attraction will be operated, if the fee will remain and if trails will be built through the backcountry.

It could also help decide if the popular Skyline-Cliff Loop trail leading up to the top of Hickory Nut Falls will reopen. The trail was closed two years ago after a 2-year-old boy fell to his death on the trail, which is comprised of man-made structures to navigate the sheer rock faces.

The master plan will also guide land acquisition - Chimney Rock could grow by another 2,000-4,000 acres.

The N.C. General Assembly authorized Chimney Rock State Park in 2005, and more than 4,300 acres in Rutherford, Polk, Henderson and Buncombe counties has been acquired in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and others. In 2007, the former Chimney Rock tourist destination was added to the park and offers the principal current public access.

The drop-in planning session will involve a workstation format allowing citizens to attend at any time during the day and spend as much time as necessary to review and discuss design alternatives. Proposed designs will also be available beginning May 26 at

Written comments may be submitted through June 23 either by using an online comment sheet or by mail to: General Management Plan Coordinator, NC Division of Parks and Recreation, 1615 MSC, Raleigh, NC 27699-1615.

For general information on the park, including hiking information, please click here.

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.

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