By Kevin Adams

Have your breath taken away when you stand at World’s Edge! World’s Edge, part of Chimney Rock State Park, is an area along the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, where the mountains suddenly and dramatically give way, dropping 2,000 feet to the Piedmont. This moderate 4-mile round-trip trek offers spectacular views and an enjoyable walk through a forest rich in many kinds of plants and animals.

In 2005, as this astonishing property was targeted for development, Conserving Carolina (then Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy) was on a mission to save it and add over 1,500 acres to the state park. In fact, to close a funding gap, our board members risked their own retirement savings and, in one case, a family farm to protect World’s Edge. They understood: it’s worth it. After you’ve hiked it, we think you’ll agree.

This hike is part of Conserving Carolina’s and WPA’s White Squirrel Hiking Challenge 7, which takes you to 8 amazing hikes on protected land. Take the challenge to discover some great places! 

Location: South of Chimney Rock, NC

Length: 4 miles round-trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation Gain: 930 feet

Great For: Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife

By Jeff Clark /

How to Get to World’s Edge

There is not an official parking area for accessing Chimney Rock State Park and World’s Edge. Located east of Edneyville, the site is accessed from the end of World’s Edge Road. GPS users may enter N35.392436, W-82.261460 in their units. The link provided will take you to the end of the paved World’s Edge Road, at Ottanola Gap. There are guardrails and a gates blocking vehicular access beyond this point. Parking is permitted on the roadside but do not block any of the gates or accesses to private properties.

Click the map for a link to Google Maps

Hiking World’s Edge

After parking, and walking toward the cliff’s edge, follow the dirt road to the left/northeast and past the park gate. Excellent views of and from the cliffs can be reached by a short, relatively flat hike along an old dirt road and side paths that lead out to and along the cliffs themselves. Take extreme caution when on these cliffs! Stay away from the edge and keep children and pets under your control. Rocks may be slippery when wet.

After enjoying the views at World’s Edge, the trail (an old roadbed) enters the forest and starts to descend the escarpment. Following the trail, you’ll enjoy the serenity of the forest around you for approximately 1.5 miles before reaching a gate at Judges Gap Road. Here, you will simply turn around and return the way you came and back to the parking area.

Please be prepared. Bring water and snacks. You will be in the sun on the cliffs and under tree shade for much of the hike, you may need protection from sun and insects, so bring layers, bug spray, and sunblock as appropriate. This hike is appropriate for pets and children, but pets must be leashed.

Photo by Greg Miner

Chimney Rock State Park Rules

Please observe the following park rules for your safety and the safety of others.

  • An adult must accompany children under 16 at all times.
  • Do not pick wildflowers or harm snakes and other wildlife in any way. This is their home!
  • Do not damage or remove any trees, plants, rocks or minerals in the Park.
  • Stay on the trail. Rappelling and rock climbing are prohibited unless with a guide.
  • Never throw or kick rocks. There may be people below.
  • Do not litter. Pack out what you pack in. No glass bottles.
  • No smoking on any trail.
  • Do not write or carve on trees, rocks or trail signs.
  • Find shelter or a low area when lightning is present. Avoid water and tall trees.
  • Pets must be on a leash at all times. Please scoop their poop!
  • Rocks are very slippery when wet so walk with caution.

Saving World’s Edge

Located just east of Hendersonville, World’s Edge was privately owned until around 2006. After the death of the conservation-minded landowner, the more than1,500-acre tract was in danger of being sold off to real estate developers. But Conserving Carolina (then Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy) was on a mission to save this extraordinary land and add it to the newly formed Chimney Rock State Park.

We needed to raise $16 million in a very short time in order to match an offer from a developer. The Nature Conservancy put up $10 million. Then contributions from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina and private individuals, including Fred and Alice Stanback, Bill and Nancy Stanback, and Donald and Lisbeth Cooper, got us within $500,000 of the goal. Ultimately, our board members put up their own retirement savings and in one case a family farm, rather than letting this astonishing land be developed. They understood what an incredible conservation opportunity this was.

A few years later, we achieved our goal and were able to transfer this land to the state park, where you can enjoy its incredible views today. Learn more about how World’s Edge was protected. 


Take the White Squirrel Hiking Challenge!

This hike is part of White Squirrel Hiking Challenge 7—an opportunity to explore eight great hikes, all in places that Conserving Carolina has helped to protect. Take all eight hikes and earn your White Squirrel patch!