Silver City Ghost Town Hike


Carson City (Chimney Rock).jpg1

  • The old Silver  City Ghost Town is located right here in Chimney Rock! The old tourist attraction was also called Carson City at times.
  •  The best place to park to hike this unique area is at the Gathering Place parking lot on the right as you enter Chimney Rock from Lake Lure.
  • When we hiked we received special permission from Chimney Rock Park so please ask if there are any restrictions on hiking here.
  • Below is the Gathering Place where we start our hike.

Carson City, located at Chimney Rock, was built by former TV and movie cowboy Sunset Carson. During the Summer there was to be wild west shows with trick shooting exhibitions, etc. Carson City was built on the side of a mountain 1,490 feet high, and had a chair lift taking tourists to the top. There was a 300 foot waterfall and a 3,000 foot cliff behind the town. Sunset planned on having a Cowboy Convention there once a year, where tourists and visitors would see personalities like, Ben Johnson, Don” Red” Barry, Rory Calhoun, Pancho, Chill Wills, and Sunset’s side-kick, Frog and many more. Now most of those he had wanted to appear there, are also gone, as is Carson City

Photo above  shows Sunset Carson standing at the end of the street in Carson City, Chimney Rock)

Info supplied by Todd Lavender 5/2018

Gather Place

Few may know that Silver  City Ghost Town was located mid- way up the mountain in Chimney Rock.

Some of the oldest cowboy stars performed here on a daily basis.

Carson City (Chimney Rock)

“Back in the ‘70s, after the filming of “Buckstone County Prison”, Sunset Carson and some backing partners opened up Sunset Carson’s Carson City Western tourist attraction in Chimney Rock, NC. Pictured are Rory Calhoun and Jerry Whittington in front of the Carson City jail and Jerry Whittington and Don Barry in front of the saloon.” From

Silver Dollar City chaor lift.jpg- Cowboys

For a fun read on who the Carson was who the Town was named after you might enjoy the following Carson was called a terrible actor who was EYE CANDY:):)):): See

Silver Dollar City - Another cowboy

Another Fun Fact about this unique place was posted by Todd Morse”   It is interesting to note that the Marshall Tucker Band made one of its first music videos there and we also produced legal moonshine… The latter may have resulted in numerous Little People sightings!”

This unique tourist ghost town was accessed by a chair lift from across the entrance to Chimney Rock Park.

“When my Grandfather acquired the property in 1968, it contained a reptile zoo, a miniature golf, a gift shop, a snack bar, and “The Mystery House” (later moved to Boone just above Tweetsie RR).The Zoo was situated where the chairlift landed . All was razzed to build the parking lot and lift levels.

Silver City was named for a western ghost town he and RB Coburn (Ghost Town) visited. They were good friends and had business interests together with the Robbins Brothers of Tweetsie.

It took 4 years of constant grading and blasting rocks to build the upper town level/rides level/horse back trail/upper chairlift landing.  Then, another 2 years to get the town completed.

He actually had the jail constructed of brick salvaged from the demolition of a real jail circa 1885-86. He loved attention to detail and could spin a tale as good as any professional based on his many travels to collected western artifacts and take pics of abandoned old west towns.” From Frank Barnhill, the grandson of Fay Barnhill, developer of Silver City which eventually was renamed Carson City for his good friend Sunset Kit.:

Some of the old lift is still visible here:

Silver Dollar City chaor lift

When you start to hike, park at the Gathering Place in Chimney Rock you will see the rusty remnants of the chair lift that brought tourists up to this old Ghost Town in the Sky. It was also in some of the scenes in The Last of the Mohicans movie.

On your hike,You might even see the “Little People” “Spirits” “and “Fairies” who have inhabited the Gorge since before recorded history! This Cherokee Legend of their existence in the Gorge to this very day and the story is fascinating! We may even see some of frisky little people!

Little People3

See The Little People of Hickory Nut Gorge on the Site Menu above.

This hike is a moderate hike, uphill all the way to the meadow.

When hiking turn North ( left).

The hike to the meadow is approximately 2.50 miles round trip.  You can continue further but the over growth makes hiking very difficult. Hiking further will bring you to the path to Rainbow Falls

The meadow is  overgrown with high vegetation but from here there are wonderful views of Chimney Rock and the Hickory Nut Gorge Falls.

This hike is absolutely beautiful. I will be once again hiking with our Vista Seekers Hiking Group See: Facebook Page for Lake Lure Newcomers for information or e-mail me.

The meadows is a great place to tell the fascinating story of the ” Little People of Hickory Nut Gorge”Little People-5NMS_5730

Silver Dollar City- view

Russ Meade

Lake Lure, NC




3 thoughts on “Silver City Ghost Town Hike

  1. nick bramlett

    I went to Silver Dollar City as a small child when the chair lift was in operation. If you have any photos I would love to see what it looks like now. Can anyone hike the trail or do you need permission?

  2. Clyde Keller

    Russ, your readers need to be aware that the old Silver City/ Hickory Nut Flats property is privately owned. It is not owned by the Park Service. The road is but there is property along the road that is privately owned as well. Hikers should get permission from the property owners before hiking on their land.

  3. I remember my grandfather taking me as a young child. My grandfather was good friends with Sunset Kit Carson. He gave his revolver to my grandfather and it’s been handed down to me. Still have the autographed pic of him. I would love to see the place again. Please contact me and let me know who to contact. Thanks. My email is

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