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Stone Mountain State Park

Stone Mountain
Stone Mountain State Park is a park in Alleghany and Wilkes Counties in northwestern North Carolina on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

Stone Mountain itself is characterized by the impressive 600-foot granite dome on top of the peak.  The dome is part of a 25-square-mile pluton, which is an igneous rock formed underground by molten lava.  Over millions of years, erosion removed the softer layers, exposing the the granite outcrop that is visible today.  On the surface today, one can see the troughs in the granite rock carved by water running down the surface.

Before it became a state park, the area around Stone Mountain was settled by immigrants of various European descents, who established self-sufficient communities with log homes, churches and schools.  The state park was established in 1969 and became a National Natural Landmark in 1975.

Contact Information:
3042 Frank Parkway
Roaring Gap, NC 28668

Phone: (336) 957-8185

Email: stone.mountain@ncdenr.gov

GPS Coordinates: 36.3873, -81.0273

Directions:

From points east, take I-77 north to exit 83.  Follow US-21 north for about 13 miles and turn left on Traphill Road (SR 1002).  After about 4 miles, turn right on John P Frank Parkway and follow to the park.  From points west, take US-421 to NC-18 east to North Wilkesboro.  Turn right on NC-268 and after about 3 miles, turn left on Airport Road.  In about 4 miles, turn left onto Traphill Road (SR 1002).  Follow Traphill Road for about 11 miles and turn left on John P Frank Parkway and follow to the park.  Use the map below to generate customized directions.

Map:

Stone Mountain State Park

Trails:

There are more than ten miles of hiking trails in the park, taking in the many natural and historical attractions within the park.

Blackjack Ridge Trail:

Length: 1.5 miles (partial loop)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: White Square

Black Jack Ridge Trail begins at the three-way termini for Wolf Rock trail and Cedar Rock Trail.  From here, the trail follows the ridge then loops back towards Cedar Rock.  Especially in winter, when the leaves are down, there are nice views of Stone Mountain and Cedar Rock from the trail.  The trail ends at Cedar Rock Trail near the intersection with Stone Mountain Loop Trail.

Cedar Rock Trail:

Length: 1.0 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Red Circle

The Cedar Rock is a short trail that runs from Wolf Rock Trail just east of Wolf Rock to Stone Mountain Loop Trail just east of the Hutchinson Homestead.  Along the way, the trail crosses Cedar Rock, another large granite outcrop with excellent views of Stone Mountain.

Stone Mountain from Cedar Rock

Middle & Lower Falls Trail:

Length: 1.0 mile (one-way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Blue Circle

The Middle & Lower Falls Trail is a one-mile out-and-back trail that takes in two of the park's smaller waterfalls.  The trailhead is off the Stone Mountain Loop Trail just west of Stone Mountain Falls.  A short ways down the trail, a spur to the right leads to Middle Falls.  Continuing on the main tail, it ends after a mile at Lower Falls.  This trail is less well-traveled than others and requires a few stream crossings without bridges.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail:

Length: 6 miles (one-way, length within park)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: White Circle

Section 18 of the statewide Mountains-to-Sea Trail runs through Stone Mountain State Park.  This section starts at Devil's Garden Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway and heads down into the park.  The trail meets up with the Widow's Creek Trail near the backcountry campsites and continues down to Stone Mountain Road.

Stone Mountain Loop Trail:

Length: 4.5 miles (loop)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: Orange Circle

Stone Mountain Loop Trail is probably the most popular trail in the park, taking in many of the park's attractions along the way.  There are two trailheads - the Upper Trailhead lot near the Visitor Center and the Lower Trailhead lot near the Hutchinson Homestead.  From the Upper Trailhead lot, there is a short connector that leads up to an old chimney and a split in the trail, with left going to the falls and right going to Stone Mountain.  Going right, the trail heads up the mountain, crossing a few granite outcrops with views of Stone Mountain from the side, before going up to the summit via several switchbacks.  Past the summit of Stone Mountain, the trail heads back down and crosses the road leading to Hutchinson Homestead from the Lower Trailhead lot.  Wolf Rock Trail splits off from here.  Continuing on, the trail passes the Hutchinson Homestead and runs along the base of the mountain before reaching Stone Mountain Falls and the stairs leading back up to the split in the trail and the Upper Trailhead lot.

View from Stone Mountain Summit

Widow's Creek Trail:

Length: 2.5 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: Orange Square

The Widow's Creek Trail follows Widow's Creek from the backcountry camping parking lot on the western end of the park up to the campsites.  The trail runs with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail for most of its length, splitting as the Widow's Creek Trail heads to the campsites and the MST continues up the mountain.

Widow's Creek Trail

Wolf Rock Trail:

Length: 1.5 miles (one-way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: Red Square

The Wolf Rock Trail leads from the Stone Mountain Loop Trail near the Lower Trailhead parking lot to the intersection with Cedar Rock and Black Jack Ridge Trails.  Near the end of the trail by Cedar Rock, there is a short spur leading west to Wolf Rock, another large granite outcrop.  This outcrop provides great views of the Blue Ridge Escarpment to the west and the ridges dividing the three main creeks running down from the Blue Ridge Parkway - Garden Creek, Widow's Creek, and Bullhead Creek.

View from Wolf Rock

Waterfalls:

There are four named waterfalls in the park.

Lower Falls:

Lower Falls is the last waterfall on Big Sandy Creek.  To reach the waterfall, follow the Middle Falls/Lower Falls Trail from the Stone Mountain Loop Trail.  Follow this trail about a mile, passing the spur to Middle Falls and crossing the creek a total of three times.

Middle Falls:

Middle Falls is located on Big Sandy Creek downstream from Stone Mountain Falls.  Follow Middle Falls/Lower Falls Trail from Stone Mountain Trail to a spur in less than half a mile.  Turn right on follow this to the top of Middle Falls.  It's very steep to get down to the base of Middle Falls.

Stone Mountain Falls:

Stone Mountain Falls, also called Little Falls, is the highest waterfall in the park.  The waterfall is located along the Stone Mountain Loop Trail and is closest to the Upper Trailhead.

Widow's Creek Falls:

Widow's Creek Falls is located near the western end of the park.  From the main entrance to the park, continue on Stone Mountain Road past Stone Mountain and the old homestead and a small pull-off will be on the right.  The waterfall is only a short walk from this parking area.  At the top of the falls, the water splits into three cascades that tumble 25 or so feet into a pool then continue down a series of short slides.  This is a popular swimming hole in the warmer months, but be sure to always exercise caution as the rocks around the falls can be very slippery.

Widow's Creek Falls

The above picture is during normal water flow.  In low water levels, more of the rock face is exposed and I though it kind of looks like a skull.

Blog Entries:

External Links:

NC State Parks website: http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/stmo/main.php


Photos:


Stone Mountain State Park