The Media Room November 28, 2015
Goats Help Get Rid of Invasive Plants

This past summer and fall, Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park employed some four-legged partners to help get rid of invasive plants in the Park. Fifteen goats were hired as part of a partnership between Chimney Rock Management, LLC; NC State Parks; the Weed Action Coalition of Hickory Nut Gorge (WAC-HNG) and the Friends of Chimney Rock State Park as an ecologically- friendly way to keep invasives such as such as Kudzu, Princess Tree and Oriental bittersweet at bay.

Visitors to the Park were able to see the goats hard at work on the mountainside above the gravel parking area located just before the top parking lot. Our furry friends worked for about one month this past summer, clearing out a two-acre swath of land near the top of the mountain that was a tangled mess of weeds and invasives and returned in mid-September to munch for nearly three more weeks. WAC-HNG will spot-treat the area with herbicide in late spring or early summer of 2016.

“Using livestock to control non-native invasive plants is an ecologically-friendly and cost-effective measure,” says David Lee, WAC-HNG Hickory Nut Gorge Steward, who coordinates invasive species management for the group. No machinery needs to be used, and little to no herbicide is needed.”

“We’re always working to remove invasive plants from the Park,” adds Mary Jaeger-Gale, Chimney Rock Management, LLC General Manager. “Invasives increase the chance of erosion and landslides, decrease food supply for birds and other wildlife, limit access to recreational use and are an eyesore. Goats love the woody-stemmed vegetation found on the mountainsides of the Gorge, their body sizes makes for a light footprint and they aerate and fertilize the soil as they work, which encourages the growth of natural plants in the spring. Using goats to control invasives is a perfect fit with the Park’s goal of sustaining our land in the most ecologically-friendly way possible.”

WAC-HNG offers an adopt-a-goat program in which they contract with local business who “rent” out their goats for invasive control throughout Hickory Nut Gorge. For more information, contact them at 828-625-9983, ext. 506.

Passholders Use Park to Get Fit

It’s 8:30 in the morning, and Angela Stockdale is beginning her trek up the 499 steps of Chimney Rock’s Outcroppings trail. In the next hour, Angela will run and walk up and down sections of the Outcroppings and Exclamation Point trails, then reward herself with a trek down the Hickory Nut Falls trail to view the 404-foot waterfall at its end made famous in 1992’s The Last of the Mohicans.

Originally from Augusta, Georgia, Angela and her husband Rick bought a cottage in Lake Lure several years ago so they could visit the area on weekends and holidays. They were drawn to Chimney Rock for its beauty and soon became annual passholders, but they also discovered that that Park offers them unique ways to exercise. Four years ago, the couple decided to make Lake Lure their permanent home, and they visit the Park several times a week, running up and down the trails and stopping from time to time to take photos of the wildlife and scenery. Angela, a neuro technologist, works out in the Park about three or four days a week and Rick, Senior Director for Myriad Genetic Labs, works out about three days.

“I tell everyone this is the best and cheapest gym I’ve ever belonged to,” says Rick, Senior Director for Myriad Genetic Labs. “You get a great workout in while seeing outstanding views. I don’t know why anyone within 30 miles who wants to get healthy wouldn’t purchase an annual pass.”

Rick and Angela each have their own exercise goals and routines. Rick will run until he exhausts his limit, take a break, and begin again. When he reaches 2,000 steps, he’s done. Angela, a neuro technologist, works out at the Park three to four days a week and focuses more on endurance and time; she’ll run up and down sections of the stairs for about 40-50 minutes before she’s finished. “I’ve figured it up, and Angela and I have climbed over 200,000 stairs a year,” says Rick. “That equals 400 trips to the top of the Rock or 134 climbs to the top of the Empire State Building.”

“The first time up the stairs is always the toughest,” adds Angela. “But once you your endurance kicks in, it gets easier.”

The couple stresses that you don’t have to be in top physical condition to work out at the Park. While the Four Seasons and Outcroppings trail offer challenging climbs, the Hickory Nut Falls provides a more forgiving, moderate trail with slight inclines (not to mention the gorgeous, 404-foot waterfall at its end). Parents and kids can walk the half-mile Great Woodland Adventure trail, which is also perfect for those just getting started with an exercise routine.

Spending time in the Park has other benefits, too. The couple enjoy the relationships they’ve formed with other Park guests and Park staff. “We see other passholders like us who come here often, but we also find ourselves answering questions of first- time guests as we walk,” says Rick. “I probably spend about 20 minutes each time I’m here talking to guests.” The couple also knows most of the Park staff by name and celebrates milestones with them, such as the birth of a baby or a child’s high school graduation.

Angela frequently takes photos of the wildlife and views she sees after her workout. “I’ve gotten some great shots on the Four Seasons trail,” she says. “And during the summer, if you get here right when the Park opens and walk out to the Hickory Nut Falls, you can often see a rainbow that appears right across the rock face of the middle of the falls.”

The views, say Rick and Angela, are what drew them to Chimney Rock, what convinced them to purchase an annual pass, and what inspires them most in during their workout routine. “We always stop about four or five times just to see the views,” says Rick. “As many times as we’ve walked these trails, there’s always something we see that’s different.”

We Made it onto Yahoo Travel!

We made it on Yahoo Travel's "Waterfalls, Caves, and Lakes — 50 Hidden Gems Across America" by Melinda Crow! Check it out under the North Carolina section here!

Elevator Out of Service Until Further Notice; Park Admission is Reduced

The elevator will be closed indefinitely while reoccurring issues in its general operation are addressed. Engineers and technicians are looking for a solution to these ongoing problems. We are sorry for the inconvenience this closure has caused and will keep you updated on any progress. We appreciate your interest in the Park and your understanding.

You can still access the top of Chimney Rock with an exhilarating walk up our 499-step Outcroppings trail. As you climb, be sure to stop and check out the Grotto, the Subway and Pulpit Rock. These familiar features have recently reopened, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the awesome views they provide.

While the elevator is out of operation, rates will be reduced. Adult tickets, normally $15, will be $13; youth tickets (ages 5-15), normally $7, will be $6. Normal discounts will apply.

The Sky Lounge Gift Shop & Deli is open daily from 10am- 6pm when our staff is able to access the elevator for business use. Cliff Dwellers Gifts is open daily from 8:30am- 6pm.

Grotto, Subway and Pulpit Rock Now Open!

Soon after NC State Parks bought Chimney Rock Park in 2007, an inventory was done to determine the condition of the trails and Park structures. Several did not meet state construction standards and were closed until improvements could be made. Access to popular destinations along the Outcroppings trail—the Subway, Grotto and Pulpit Rock—were closed at that time. But, as noted in the State Parks’ Master Plan for Chimney Rock State Park, these destinations along the Outcroppings trail were to be redesigned, rebuilt and reopened.

A crew with NHM Constructors, LLC out of Asheville began in December 2014 to rebuild the stairs and boardwalks to restore access to these unique features along the trail that leads to the “Rock.” As you can imagine, it was no easy task. Materials were brought in by truck and carried up the mountain. A helicopter flew 70 loads of materials to the site in one afternoon, with the pilot threading the materials down through trees for the crew on the ground to put in place. The harsh winter weather we had made it even more difficult!

But all of these efforts were well worth it; the Subway, Grotto and Pulpit Rock were reopened Memorial Day weekend to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of our guests as they experienced the amazing views!

Check out photos of the progress and completed project on this page as well information on how you can experience these exciting features! And don’t forget to visit our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages where you can see even more photos of these features, plus much more from around the Park!

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