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The Lure of the Lake Beneath the Chimney Rock

There’s a great little “out of the way” spot that’s not very far out of the way for the Johns Creek traveler. Just southeast of Asheville, NC, sparkles a beautiful jewel in the Blue Ridge Mountains called Lake Lure.

We’re getting into that time of year when places that normally reveal merely lovely views in nature change dramatically with the foliage into spectacular vistas of awe-inspiring wonder that can transform the soul and rejuvenate the heart. Such is the case at Chimney Rock Village and Lake Lure, NC.

Nestled in the breathtaking beauty of the Hickory Nut Gorge in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lure is as inviting as its name suggests.  It’s also a great “location” – at least Hollywood seems to thinks so.

Used as the setting for the movie Dirty Dancing in 1987, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, the area – including Chimney Rock Park – was also used in a number of scenes from such motion pictures as My Fellow Americans in 1996, starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner, The Last of the Mohicans in 1992, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, A Breed Apart in 1984, starring Rutger Hauer and Kathleen Turner, as well as Firestarter – also released in 1984 – starring Drew Barrymore, George C. Scott and Martin Sheen.

But aside from “star gazing” there is also star gazing – literally.  The night sky is a vivid expanse of celestial bodies against an endless sea of indigo velvet that hangs over this peaceful lake.

During the day you can casually tour the 720-acre lake by boat, skim across its shimmering blue diamond surface on skis, try your hand at fishing its 115 foot depths or hike along its 21-mile shoreline.  You can even hike the trails through the 1,000-acre Chimney Rock Park or climb up to the pinnacle of Chimney Rock for a panaramic view of Hickory Nut Gorge.

There are a variety of great restaurants around the lake, including Larkin’s on The Lake. The upscale menu at Larkin's ranges from succulent seafood to charbroiled Filet Mignon with creamy Béarnaise sauce and tempting desserts.

Or you can choose something a little more casual at the Old Rock Café, located near the entrance of Chimney Rock Park and situated alongside the Rocky Broad River in Chimney Rock Village. 

There you can get anything from Buffalo wings and cheeseburgers to chicken Caesar wraps and fried green tomatoes.  They’ll wrap it up for you to take on a hike or you can sit on the deck and enjoy your lunch while overlooking the river.

If you need a great place to stay the night, you might consider the Gaestehuas Salzburg Bed and Breakfast.

The European charm of this Alpine-style chalet features three rooms in the main chalet and seven cabins and cottages on the grounds. A traditional German breakfast greets you each morning, complete with Austrian pastries.

From Johns Creek it takes about three-and-a-half hours to get to Lake Lure.

Get over to I-85 North and travel for 140 miles into South Carolina.  Then when you’re about to reach Spartanburg, SC,  take I-26 North toward Asheville for 22 miles until you see US-74/NC-108 at Exit 67.  Take the looping ramp exit onto US-74/NC-108 and travel for about a mile until you reach Exit 163 which splits NC-108 from US-74.  Follow NC-108 North for just over 3 miles until you reach Mill Spring.  Take a left at Mill Spring onto NC-9 and continue north for 10 miles until you reach Lake Lure.

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