view from Eagle Rock
view from Eagle Rock

10-17-18  People have been visiting Eagle Rock near Shumont Mountain for years, but access hasn't always been easy or always legal. The more popular way was to approach it from Shumont Rd, but from what I understand, folks were parking illegally and it got to be a mess. Back in 2010, a friend of mine - Jack Thyne (aka SCJack) - showed me a way in from the Lake Lure side. This was about a 3.5 mile difficult hike, but was well worth it for the spectacular views to be had. More recently, Conserving Carolina and the Town of Lake Lure worked together to save over 1500 acres of land that was slated for development, but went into bankruptcy. This tract of land is Buffalo Creek Park and is now one of the largest local parks in the state. Conserving Carolina went to work constructing a sustainable mountain bike and hiking trail - the Weed Patch Mountain Trail. The trail begins at Buffalo Creek Park off of Buffalo Creek Rd and ends 10 miles later at Eagle Rock which is now part of Chimney Rock State Park. The problem was that there was now no access from the Eagle Rock side, so hiking that trail wasn't an option for the average hiker. That problem is now remedied There is now legal parking at the end of Shumont Rd! The lot is small, however and you must make a reservation to park 7 days a week. The reservation is free and all of the info can be found on the Chimney Rock SP site here. Click on the parking link and that should take you to the Eventbrite web site. Click on whichever live event applies to the date you want to go, then pick a date and follow the directions. Be sure to print out your ticket to put on your dashboard while you are parked!

Directions: From the intersection of Gerton Hwy (Alt74) and NC9 in Bat Cave just north of Chimney Rock State Park, drive 2.2 miles on NC9 and turn right on Shumont Rd. Drive 4.0 curvy miles to the end of Shumont Rd and the gate for the parking lot. Enter the code given to you on your reservation, close and lock the gate behind you, and continue the short distance up to the lot. Please keep in mind while parking that at least 8 vehicles may have access to the lot also.

Parking here will also give you access to 2 other excellent rock features - Jenga Rock and The Tunnel. Eagle Rock and Jenga Rock are close to one another only about 0.3 miles from the parking area. The trail up is fairly easy, but you have to have some boulder scrambling skills to get the good views. The Tunnel is 1.1 moderate miles from the parking area along the same trail and requires no climbing skills to enjoy. Begin the hike on the road to the left of the kiosk and head steadily uphill for about 1/4 mile. From here the trail bears left and it's a short distance to the first large boulder pile - Jenga Rock. If you have those climbing skills and pick a good route, you can get up to the top rock. The photo above shows Jack on top of Jenga Rock with me shooting from Eagle Rock. Even if your thinking no on climbing, try going around the right side of the base of Jenga to the back side. There are some safe perches back there with good views through the trees.

back side of Jenga Rock
the view from the back side of Jenga Rock

From Jenga, it's a very short distance up the trail to Eagle Rock. Now you have to figure out how to get up on top for the views. There are 2 piles here divided by a deep gap. The larger pile in front will get you the more open views, but the back pile is easier to climb and has excellent views also. You have to know your limits here. Remember that rock is harder than your skull. When Cindy and I checked out the new parking area right after it opened, we got up on the smaller pile, but were reluctant to climb the larger one. Jack reminded me that there was a bridge over the gap between the 2 piles back in 2010, but that isn't there any more. You might get up on the smaller pile and think you can leap the gap between the 2 - and you might be able to - but also refer back to my statement above about rock being harder than your skull. Below are a few shots from the smaller pile from our recent trip. The air was clear and we could see for miles and miles and miles.

view towards Little Pisgah Mountain
view towards Little Pisgah Mountain 

view towards the Craggy and Black Mountains
view towards the Craggy and Black Mountains

view with Hawksbill and Table Rock Mountains in the distance
view with Hawksbill and Table Rock Mountains way in the distance

looking towards the larger pile and viewing area
looking towards the larger pile and viewing area 

From Eagle Rock, the Weed Patch Mountain Trail begins to switchback down the mountain towards the spur trail for The Tunnel, then on towards Flapjack Rock, Grey Rock, and beyond. I know there's a view from Grey Rock, but I haven't been that far yet. The hike to The Tunnel spur is about 3/4 of a mile from Eagle Rock and is well marked on the right side of the trail. The last 0.2 miles up to and through The Tunnel includes more excellent rock work by Conserving Carolina's Peter Barr and his dedicated trail crew. I had seen a photo of The Tunnel, so I knew what to expect there, but I wasn't expecting the large area of rock and boulders on the other side of it. The Tunnel is at the base of Eagle Rock and this area offers some views slightly obscured by the trees and a lot of climbing and bouldering opportunities. Below are some shots from The Tunnel area.

entrance into The Tunnel
entrance into The Tunnel

view from the opposite side
view from the opposite side

looking down from The Tunnel
looking down from The Tunnel 

looking back towards The Tunnel (upper left)
looking back towards The Tunnel (upper left)

some of Peter Barr's excellent stone work
some of Peter Barr's excellent stone work 

 

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