PHOTOS AND ARTICLE BY ROBIN SHUPE
“Nature itself is the best physician.” – Hippocrates
As we continue our state park adventures, we arrive at Stone Mountain State Park that is divided between Wilkes and Alleghany counties of North Carolina. The stone mountain itself cannot be seen upon entering the park that shares its name, but the incredible 600-foot granite dome is well worth the visit. But this incredible stone dome is only one of the many scenic enticements that will demand your attention during your time at this must-visit state park. Stone Mountain State Park with its cascading waterfalls, meandering mountain streams, forests abundant with diverse wildlife, and scenic hiking trails are a few of the many reasons to make the trip.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
According to NCpedia.org, the stone mountain within the park “is light gray, medium-grained biotite granite developed from magma several miles deep in the earth. As erosion removed the overlying granitic rock, the resulting release in pressure caused the rock mass to move upward and intrude into older surrounding rocks sometime during the mid-Paleozoic era, 200 million years ago. Wolf Rock and Cedar Rock within the park are similar in structure. The proximity of these plutonic features to the Blue Ridge escarpment is of unusual geologic interest. As a result. Stone Mountain was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1974.”
NCpedia goes on to say that “long before becoming a state park, Stone Mountain was settled by families of English, German, Irish, French, and Scots-Irish descent who built the log homes, farms, mills, churches and schools needed for self-sufficient communities. A restored 19th century mountain community, the Hutchinson Homestead, is located within the park.”
“Stone Mountain State Park was established in 1969 when the efforts of local citizens led to the acquisition of 1,463 acres of land. Part of the land was donated, and its value was used as the state’s matching fund for grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Appalachian Regional Commission supporting purchase of the initial land for the park. Since then, Stone Mountain State Park has grown to become one of the largest units in the state parks system. Its combination of highly significant biologic, geologic, scenic, recreational, and archaeologic resources make it one of the premier units of the system.”
“The earth has music for those who listen.” – William Shakespeare
The state park website lists the numerous activities and amenities as:
- Tent sites (including backpacking sites)
- Trailer and RV sites (some with electric and water hookups)
- Group tent sites
- Dump station
- Hiking (20 miles)
- Horseback riding (10 miles)
- Rock climbing
- Picnic shelters
- Horse trailer parking
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu
Although the 600-foot dome of Stone Mountain is an obvious unique feature, it is far from the only one. In addition to the significant scenic value of Stone Mountain, there is also Wolf Rock and Cedar Rock. The fact that you can rock climb and rappel in the winter, due to the south facing dome that has full sun all day making it quite warm, is quite an enticement for experienced climbers, although not recommended for beginners.
Another unique feature of the park is its magnificent waterfalls. The park includes four major waterfalls: Stone Mountain Falls, 200 feet in height; Middle Falls, a series of low cascades; Lower Falls, 25 feet in height; and Widow’s Creek Falls. The northwestern vistas, a panoramic look at the Blue Ridge mountains, are the most scenic in the park.
At the End of the Day
“Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.” – John Muir
Stone Mountain State Park has over 14,000 scenic acres to explore and enjoy with about 20 miles of moderate to strenuous hiking trails and 10 miles of horseback riding trails. You can also test your fly-fishing techniques with over 17 miles of designated trout waters.
Stone Mountain State Park is one of the largest parks in the state and one of my favorites in the NC park system. My hope is that you take the opportunity to visit this unique and amazingly beautiful state park and enjoy an unforgettable experience that will keep you coming back again and again.
Stone Mountain State Park is located at 3042 Frank Parkway, Roaring Gap, NC 28668. Park, visitor center, and park office hours vary by month. For more information visit their website at ncparks.gov/state-parks/stone-mountain-state-park or call (336) 957-8185.