OverviewRumbling Bald Mountain is an important North Carolina peak for several reasons. Although its summit is clothed in a beautiful forest of mainly oaks, it boasts an array of enormous cliff faces that have proven to be some of the East's finest rock climbing areas. Until recently, the mountain was almost all in private hands, but both of the principal owners (a Christian group and a family) were sympathetic to rock climbers, and so the mountain has always been accessible for that sport. In late 2001 the Nature Conservancy purchased over 1000 acres of Rumbling Bald Mountain and not only placed those acres under their protection, but continued to allow access to the peak for hiking and climbing. As I write this, the North Carolina legislature has recently created a new state park around Rumbling Bald Mountain, adding considerable more acreage to form Hickory Nut Gorge State Park. The official dedication will take place in 2008.
Rumbling Bald Mountain gets its name from a series of strong earthquakes that hit the vicinity between 1874 and 1886. The mountain apparently literally "rumbled" during the quakes, and there has been speculation that the sounds were caused by falling debris within the cave systems in the peak. Many of the local residents at that time fled the area, thinking the peak was going to erupt.
Today, Hickory Nut Gorge is largely developed and little of the land there is in public hands or protected from destruction by logging and construction of housing. Part of the gorge was dammed and is home to Lake Lure, often said to be the most beautiful manmade lake in North America. Chimney Rock Park is located across the gorge from Rumbling Bald Mountain and is open to the public for an entrance fee. There are many hotels, cabins, campgrounds, restaurants, and other facilities in the gorge. By now, everyone knows that the Michael Mann film, LAST OF THE MOHICANS was filmed largely in Hickory Nut Gorge.
For access to the general area from Charlotte: Take I-85 South to exit #10 (Kings Mountain and Highway 74 West). At exit #167 take take Highway 9 north for 14 miles. This will take you to Lake Lure. At the stop sign at Lake Lure, turn left on Highway 64/74 West. This will take you toward either the climbing areas, or on to Chimney Rock Park.
Red TapeNone. No camping, as yet (we'll have to wait and see what happens with the State Park status). Contact the Nature Conservancy for access information.
When To Climb
Fall and Spring would be the best times for rock climbing. But it's doable all year, I think.
For hiking, all year.
CampingThere are commercial campsites in Hickory Nut Gorge. Lots of hotels and rental cabins, also.
Check the weather for Lake Lure or Bat Cave.
- Flatliners Southeast.
Nice page from a climbing group who have created this excellent page telling of a Rumbling Bald climb with description of climbing routes.
- Chimney Rock Park.
Nice website for the commercial Chimney Rock Park. Very nice as far as this type of park goes.
- Lake Lure.
A very nice website for both the actual Lake Lure and the town of that name. Good information about the area.
- Carolina Climbers Coalition
"Preserving, Protecting and Expanding Your Climbing Opportunities Since 1995."
Rumbling Bald CaveAt the base of the climbing walls on Rumbling Bald is a cave with fairly easy access. It's a fun place to explore and one can do a fair share of unique rock climbing inside the mountain.
A link to a history of how Rumbling Bald Mountain came to get its current name can also be found at this location.
Additions and Corrections[ Post an Addition or Correction ]