Lake lures us to Chimney Rock State Park

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Most of us are grateful for an extra day off every now and then. The Labor Day weekend afforded my family that benefit this weekend and we continued a family tradition that dates to 2002 when we gathered for what started out as a family camping trip that has now morphed into something else.

This year, for the first time, my daughter Anna Kate planned the trip for the entire family. She took us to Lake Lure in Rutherford County, a place we had not visited before as a family.

We arrived Saturday morning and, since she was in charge, Anna Kate took us through a public garden in Lake Lure called the Flowering Bridge.

The small garden is built along an old roadbed that has since been bypassed by a new section of roadway and a new bridge.

But instead of tearing down the old structure, folks in Lake Lure found a way to turn it into something of a drawing card.

The old road has long since been torn out, but the old bridge remains and volunteers have turned it into a showcase for flora and fauna. A walk through the garden is free and there was ample parking in the lot just a few feet away from the start of garden.

On Sunday, we traveled to Chimney Rock. I was concerned that we would find the place very crowded because it was such a beautiful day and temperatures made outdoor activities especially enticing. We arrived about mid-morning and had no difficulty getting to the parking lot and catching a shuttle to the to gift shop area where you enter through a tunnel constructed in 1938, which leads to an elevator.

That elevators rises some 26 stories to let you out at another gift shop. A quick pass through that shop and you’re outside to see the approach to Chimney Rock – 42 relatively easy steps to the unique natural stone that gives you a glimpse as far as you could want to see. Lake Lure itself sits just below Chimney Rock and you get a magnificent view of the lake.

From there we hiked up a trail just seven-tenths of a mile long, but uphill enough that we took a handful of breaks to catch our breath.

At the top of the trail we saw a gorgeous waterfall that was fed from natural springs on top of the mountain. It was well worth the hike.

Our annual Labor Day trips have taken us all over the state in the last 17 years and we’ve seen lots of places we probably wouldn’t ever have seen. Sometimes we end up at the coast, sometimes on a river or a lake and sometimes we’ve camped out in the middle of a city. One trip, several years ago even brought us to Hyco Lake.

It’s been a wonderful way to learn about the variety and the beauty of our state. It’s also been a great opportunity to reconnect with family in a day and age where it seems impossible to find time just to visit for a little while.

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