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Stone Mountain Trails

posted Jun 3, 2018, 1:30 PM by Justin P   [ updated Jun 16, 2018, 4:05 PM ]
Saturday, we took Alex to Stone Mountain State Park for National Trails Day.  It was really going to be hot in Raleigh, so thought the mountains would provide some relief.  We left around 7 and arrived at the park around 930, stopping at the visitor center to get a stamp for Alex's passport.


Then we drove to picnic area and started our hike from here, taking the connector trail down to pick up Stone Mountain Loop Trail.  At the old chimney, we went right to head up to the summit of Stone Mountain.  There are a couple open areas along the way with nice views from the exposed rock.


The second one has a nice side view of the Stone Mountain dome.  After this, a couple switchbacks led up to the summit.  It wasn't too bad but the humidity made it real muggy.  But there was a nice breeze at the summit.


I went out on the rocks to get some pictures of the gorgeous views from up here.


We took a break up here and gave Alex a chance to cool off.  There were a few people already here when we arrived but it was progressively getting more crowded.  So we started making our way down the other side.


We passed many groups heading up and I thought it was good that we arrived when we did.  A few spots on the way down had nice views from a section of exposed rock - Cedar Rock was visible across the way.  The trail continued down to the Lower Parking Area where we got on Wolf Rock Trail.  It was a little steep at first but eventually leveled off.  I saw some sulphur shelf mushrooms growing along the trail.


We took the short spur out to Wolf Rock and had lunch out here enjoying the views.  Unlike Stone Mountain, no one else was here.


Continuing on we finished Wolf Rock Trail and turned right on Cedar Rock Trail and went out on the rocks for a great view of Stone Mountain.


There were a couple other spots further along the trail with great views of the mountain.


The people at the top of Stone Mountain were just barely visible.  At the bottom, Sandy waited with Alex to take a little break in the shade while I headed over to the Hutchinson Homestead to get a couple pictures.


Then we continued on Stone Mountain Loop Trail following a tributary downstream.  For practice, we skipped the bridges and rock-hopped at the tributary crossings, allowing Alex to get his feet wet and stop for a drink.  As the trail approached Big Sandy Creek, we turned right on Middle Falls/Lower Falls Trail to head towards the waterfalls.  In a half-mile, a short spur to the right led to Middle Falls.


The water level was up and it was difficult to get to the base of for a picture.  I had to squeeze through a narrow opening in the rock, which probably wasn't worth it - the sun was shining right on the waterfall.  There was a nice upper drop that was in the shade and I didn't have to squeeze through a hole to see it.


Back at the main trail, we immediately rock-hopped Big Sandy Creek then headed up and back down a ridge to another creek crossing.  The horse trail started on the other side and it was a short ways further to Lower Falls.


The lighting was poor again and there were some families with kids splashing around.  I didn't want to get my feet wet yet, so we headed back and stopped to see some small drops along the creek.


Our next stop was Stone Mountain Falls.


It was really crowded here and Alex was getting tired so we didn't spend long.  He was not pleased with having to climb all the steps to get back up but after that, it was just a half-mile back to the car.  Before leaving the park, we made one more stop at Widow's Creek Falls.


This one was the most crowded of all with lots of people swimming and sliding down the falls.  We wore water shoes and splashed around in the water a little bit to cool off.  Alex got his paws wet but didn't seem interested in the water so we didn't stay long.