Rushing waters, rocky cliffs, a giant waterfall, and pristine forests make Hickory Nut Gorge a popular destination for hikers, leaf-peepers, and photography buffs. Over eons, the Rocky Broad River has cut through the mountainous terrain to create the 14-mile gorge, which drops about 1,800 feet between the town of Gerton and Lake Lure.
Straddling four counties, the 20,000-acre Hickory Nut Gorge is an ecological treasure. The gorge is home to 37 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species.
Travelers driving from Hendersonville or Black Mountain will first come to Bat Cave, a town and a Nature Conservancy preserve by the same name. The preserve protects the rare and endangered Indiana bat. The town of Bat Cave offers quaint shops, mountain crafts, and restaurants.
One of the best known attractions in the Gorge is Chimney Rock State Park. Visible from the highway, the 404-foot Hickory Nut Falls-which are twice as high as Niagara Falls-spill over the sheer cliffs in the Park. The Chimney itself, a stunning geological formation, presides over the Gorge like a lookout. The Park and Hickory Nut Gorge provided the backdrop for the movie The Last of the Mohicans.
At the bottom of the Hickory Nut Gorge is placid Lake Lure, which offers a sandy beach and swimming area, a lakeside gazebo popular for weddings, and boat tours. Lake Lure is popular with seasonal visitors and offers a number of accommodations and restaurants. The movie Dirty Dancing was filmed at Lake Lure.
There are no fees for admission to Hickory Nut Gorge, but admission is charged at Chimney Rock State Park.
Hickory Nut Gorge is 15 miles southeast of Asheville. It is accessible along US Highway 64 from Hendersonville and Rutherfordton, and via US Highway 9 from Black Mountain.