Stone Mountain State Park
Stone Mountain Photo
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The 13,000+ acre Stone Mountain State Park has
well maintained trails. If you like views, this is the place to
hike. A word of caution though; there are many places within this
park where getting close to the edge can cost you your life. Waterfalls
and steep cliffs have claimed several lives in the past.
is a serious trail" was the exclamation that I heard from below.
Serious indeed, I thought.
The Stone Mountain Trail is extremely steep and slippery. It
is also has breathtaking views, especially in the Winter. I was
sitting on a rock after a long climb up the Stone Mountain Trail.
A group of hikers were making their way up the climb that I had
just finished. I could hear their collective gasps for air. Maybe
it was the sadist in me but it was nice to hear that I wasn't the
only one that lost his breath climbing up that mountain.
The yellow blazed Stone Mountain Trail begins at the
Comfort Station in the hiker parking area. To the right of this
building, the trail winds through a dense rhododendron forest. Even
in January, a warm day brings out the earthy and sweet fragrance
of the rhododendron lined creek. After a short walk through
the dense and dark forest, the trail crosses the road. It is at
this point the trail begins the climb to the rock faces that define
||The first cliffs are visible through the trees after a quarter
mile of climbing. Side trails to the right lead out to nice
views of the rolling hills of the North Carolina Piedmont. This
is the beginning of a series of truly spectacular views that
deserve many . The white faced cliffs have furrows carved in
them from millions of years of erosion. Little streams flow
in these groves, down the steep sides of the mountain.
|dThe trail continues to climb along the face of
Stone Mountain. The hardwood forest along the edge of the rock
faces is comprised of of hickories, oaks and few scattered pines.
This is known as a climax forest, the final stage of this forest
community. The hardwoods are slowly "pushing the pines
out". The trees are relatively young or immature. The plant
community, that survives in patches on the white rock, consists
mainly of pine, heath and some mountain laurel.
The trail passes a few more views and levels
off. There are several side trails that lead to excellent
picnic spots. It may sound repetitive, but many hikers have
wandered too far on the steep edges and became stranded
on small rock ledge
As the trail winds across the top of the
mountain the yellow blazes lead the way. The trail makes
a few turns and enters a wooded area. Many seeps cross
the path making the rock slippery in some places.
|The trail begins its decent after an impressive walk along
the top of the Granite Dome. The forest thickens into a pine-oak
forest. I spotted deer twice on the decent to the Stone Mountain
Falls. A total of four deer, in just a mile and a half, crossed
my path. One stopped and tried to "blend" into his(her)
200 foot Stone Mountain Falls from
the bottom. Notice the observation deck on the upper
|After passing a side trail to a picnic
area, the trail continues on to the Stone Mountain Falls.
This impressive 200 foot plume is well protected by
wooden railings. The warning signs are posted at the
top of the falls and the message is obvious.
The trail proceeds from
the top of the falls to a long wooden stairway that
descends to the bottom of the falls. There is an observation
deck close to the top of the falls and the view is
The stairway is nearly as impressive as the falls
Well maintained trail follows cool,
|From the bottom of the falls to the trail
head near the base of Stone Mountain the trail is nearly
level. The walk is along the Rhododendron lined Big
Sandy Creek, a contrast to the high and dry ridge of
|The view from Wolf Rock
Two worthwhile side trips from the trails should
be noted. The trail to Lower and Middle Falls is short and worth
the effort.While not as spectacular as The Stone Mountain Falls
both of these falls are worthy of mention.
The second side trip is the short nature trail
loop at the base of Stone Mountain. Several plaques label trees
and members of the plant community at points along the trail.
the base of Stone Mountain you are one half of a mile from the
trail head and the parking lot. This is a wide open field and
is a popular place for observing the "Friction Cliff Climbers".
This is the only site in the East for this type of ridge climbing.
Friction climbing is a method with which climbers use ropes
to pull themselves up the mountain. It is more of a cross between
walking and climbing and is very fun to watch.
My pedometer read 10 miles at the completion
of this hike. This includes side trips and explorations of the
cliffs. (Not Recommended)
The trail to the top of Stone Mountain
should not be attempted in freezing or wet weather.
The possibility of injury is great here, even in dry weather.
GETTIN' THERE :
Mountain State Park is 45 miles north of Statesville, NC.
Take exit 83 (US 21) on I-77 and drive 10 miles to Roaring Gap.
Turn left at the brown State Park sign and travel 3 miles to
the John Frank Parkway. Turn right and drive 2 miles to the
Map it from your house with MapQuest>>
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