Traveling in the mountains of NC is a joy, winding roads, cool breeze and beautiful scenery. This past weekend, I decided to take some family members to Chimney Rock State Park, just outside of Morganton NC. A short 20 minute ride from the main interstate puts you smack in the middle of great recreation. The Broad River winds through the area creating many pportunities to kayak, tube and fish. The river is fed through a series of damns which release water multiple times a week. When the water is released, it raises the water level and speeds up the flow. Great for any type of water sports. As you come into the area, you will first pass through Lake Lure, a small mountain lake community that is rich in heritage. The village is known for the film, Dirty Dancing” and is enjoyed by many each year. But our trip was focused on Chimney Rock and we continued around the lake and soon entered the town of Chimney Rock. Let’s say that you might want to bring some extra cash. This particular area of North Carolina has unique geologic formations and a number of precious minerals can be found here. So, you may need to stop by one of the gem mines and take a chance on finding a valuable rock. Or, you could just grab a hamburger at one of the many restaurants and leisurely stroll through town or along the river. With its many jewelry stores, t-shirt shops, etc… you will probably leave some money in Chimney Rock and be glad you did. The park entrance is in the middle of town and you follow a winding road to midpoint so you can park. Here, those that want to hike all the way up can hit their trail and others that want to take in other trails can continue further up the mountain. The Hickory Nut Falls trail is an easy 1.5 mile or so trail leading to the falls. You will be under canopy most of the hike so it is better than some.