Leave at 9am sharp. Bring water and lunch. Total hiking: 6.2 miles moderate-strenuous
Bearwallow Mtn. is a short 2 mile roundtrip hike with a somewhat steep climb. There are rewarding views as you make your way up, and the top of the mtn. is part rock bald and pasture. Your reward is a 360 degree view if the clouds don't roll in. There is also an old ranger's house and firetower on top. NOTE: If it is a cloudy day or exceptionally windy and cold, we will save this for another day. Last year we nearly froze.
The Florence Nature Preserve is a 4.2 mile hike that will be exploratory as trails have been rerouted off private lands and I have not hiked the new trails. This is part of the Hickory Nut Gorge system just above the Bat Cave/Chimney Rock area. With the exception of a steep half mile climb at the beginning, the rest of the trail should be moderate.
Note: I am still reading and researching this area and have found there is a trail to Bearwallow Falls. I may post further updated info.
Anyone wanting to check out the shops in Chimney Rock OR stop at Larkin's On The Lake (Lake Lure) after the hike should carpool accordingly. If it is a sunny afternoon, Larkin's has a patio on the lake to enjoy a drink and pretty setting.