CHIMNEY ROCK PARK IN MAY AND JUNE

Chimney Rock Park in the beautiful Hickory Nut Gorge area is a great spot to enjoy the outdoors, plus it’s very closeby — located just a half hour south of the Inn on Mill Creek. It’s time to check in with our friends at Chimney Rock Park to see what’s going on at the Park in May and June. Here are a few special events we discovered at www.chimneyrockpark.com that we’d like to share:

2nd Annual Lure of the Dragons Festival

Dragons descend on Lake Lure…in the form of boats, that is. Watch as teams compete to raise money for area children’s charities. The festival, which will be held May 16, has entertainment, food and kids’ activities all day long.

“Off the Beaten Path” Guided Hikes

Old Growth Forest (May 16): Learn what’s special about a forest with canopy members over a century old, some likely 200 to 300 years of age. See the largest known Chestnut Oak in the Park among other prime specimens of their kinds on this moderately strenuous 2-hour hike.

Rocky Broad Jump (June 27): This hike heads along the Rocky Broad River, so keeping dry feet is not a guarantee. Riverside rock-hopping as much as possible, participants will have a glimpse into gorge life along the shady side of the river. Aquatic life will be sought under a few rocks as well. Participants must wear shoes that offer traction and comfort, wet or dry for this moderately strenuous 2-hour program.

Birding Opportunities: “Simon Says” Birding Walks

“Warblers!” (May 17): Dozens of species of warblers live and breed in the Park. Join birding expert Simon Thompson to see or hear all these species, including Worm-eating, Swainson’s, Black-and-white, Hooded and Yellow-throated. (Occasionally, a substitute guide may lead walks.)

“Summer Birding” (June 28): Summer is a time of frenzied activity for many resident birds. Park OrnithologistSimon Thompson will point out Downy, Hairy and Pileated Woodpeckers who will be noisily feeding their young. Both the summer resident Scarlet Tanagers and Wood Thrushes should be singing and establishing their territories as well.

Rock Climbing

“Climb Time Weekends at the Park” (May 30-31 and June 27-28): Chimney Rock Park has partnered with Fox Mountain Guides to offer rock climbing at the Park on the last full weekend of each month. Climb time weekends feature demonstrations, walk-up clinics and tasters – a 15-minute give-it-a-go. No experience or equipment necessary, just a little bit of moxie!

National Trails and Land Trust Day

Head to Chimney Rock Park on June 6, for guided hikes with Park specialists, rock climbing demonstrations (and the opportunity to try it for yourself). Area land trust organizations, hiking associations and other outdoor vendors will also be on hand to share their dedication to preserving and protecting green spaces. Additionally, author Danny Bernstein will give a presentation and sign copies of her new book, Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage.

There’s plenty more to do and see at Chimney Rock Park. Check their website for details: www.chimneyrockpark.com.

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