Hickory Nut Gorge

Located in the oldest, most beautiful and magical mountains in the world!

The North Carolina mountains are the oldest and some of the most beautiful and magical mountains in the world. They are abundantly rich in diverse plant and animal life and contain many pristine streams and waterfalls. Sheer rocky cliffs and expansive vistas offer wonderful views. While we get to enjoy occasional snows in winter, it melts off within days. Beautiful spring flowers and fall leaves offer a vibrant pallet of colors for residents and visitors to marvel at.

Hickory Nut Creek boulders

Hickory Nut Gorge

Hickory Nut Gorge is a magnificent jewel in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Over the eons, the winds and waters have carved this 10-mile granite gorge through spectacular, sheer cliffs. Starting at the Eastern Continental Divide, the tumultuous waters of Hickory Nut Creek cascade for miles over small, beautiful waterfalls and merge into the powerful, boulder-strewn Broad River, before finally coming to rest at Lake Lure. Scenic Highway 74A twists and turns its way down the gorge passing through the mountain villages of Gerton, Bat Cave, Chimney Rock and Lake Lure.

These tumbling waterfalls and soaring granite cliffs have been sacred to the inhabitants since even before the Cherokee honored these lands. It is a place filled with powerful healing energies and has always been a valley of peace. Our vision is to preserve and protect the vibrant forests, to maintain the ecological balance of the rich habitats, and to keep pure the pristine trout streams. In everything we do, protecting this land comes first.

 

Chimney Rock

Hickory Nut Creek & Rocky Broad River

Hickory Nut Creek and the Rocky Broad River have carved an amazing gorge exposing the sheer granite cliffs on both sides of the valley. Tumbling nearly 10 miles over many waterfalls, these waters finally settle into the beautiful Lake Lure.

Chimney Rock State Park

At the mouth of Hickory Nut Gorge is Chimney Rock State Park, named after a large granite outcropping located on a summit above the village of Chimney Rock. A private park for many years, it was purchased by the State of North Carolina and is now a state park.

Bat Cave

Bat Cave Sign

Halfway down Hickory Nut Gorge, you arrive at the small village of Bat Cave. It was named after a cave at the foot of the mountain, inhabited by a multitude of bats. This unique site is now owned and protected by the Nature Conservancy. Special tours can be arranged through them in the summer.

Lake Lure

Lake Lure

Lake Lure sits at the lowest end of Hickory Nut Gorge. The Rocky Broad River ends its cascade down Hickory Nut Gorge and flows into Lake Lure. Great stretches of water, three long bays, islands and inlets form a picturesque lake in this mountain setting.

History of Hickory Nut Gorge

Hickory Nut Gorge has a fascinating past. The Cherokee lived in these valleys for centuries before white settlers came. Many relics and arrowheads have been found at former villages and hunting grounds.

In the early 1800s, pioneers and settlers began moving into western North Carolina from the east. This natural 10-mile long cleft in the Blue Ridge Mountains up the Broad River and Hickory Nut Creek became the main passageway for travelers heading to Asheville.

In about 1815, the dirt road was improved and became Hickory Nut Gorge Turnpike. Also known as Drover’s Road, it was used by herders to drive cattle, hogs, geese, turkeys, pigs and other animals to market to be sold or traded for goods or cash needed in outlying mountain communities. Hickory Nut Forest Community is located directly on this historic old route.

The Drover’s Road

The old Drover’s Road was an early path for farmers of the southern Appalachians to the markets on the coast. Along this road in the late 1800s, a large, plain house, then known as “Sherrill’s Inn,” saw the daily arrival of “The Flying Cloud,” a stagecoach which brought tired and thoroughly jostled customers for old man Sherrill and his wife’s cooking, whisky, and beds. Passengers were on their way from coastal towns to Asheville, about fifteen miles away, which even then was gaining a reputation as a health-oriented mountain retreat.

In those days stagecoach riders would likely see pigs, turkeys, mules, and other livestock being driven along the dusty road as it curled up to the front porch of the house, which served as a resting place for drovers and their flocks. The Inn became Hickory Nut Gap Farm in 1916, when Jim and Elizabeth McClure, newlyweds from Illinois, purchased it with plans to farm and raise a family there. This remarkable couple left a legacy of commitment to the land and community that lives on in the family to this day, and their home-place has become a widely recognized symbol of social, agricultural, political, and spiritual development in Western North Carolina.

Contemporary struggles to preserve small farms and farmland, growing interest in local economies, and the desire of people in our rapidly changing culture to establish authentic, sustainable, and meaningful communities wherever they may live, gives this story of the McClure legacy a relevance that goes well beyond the sheltered coves and hollows of the region.