My husband and I were exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway just shy of the North Carolina border when I looked down at the map and spied a tiny chunk of green land labeled Stone Mountain State Park.
During our multiple-month road trip with our kids several years ago, we climbed to the top of Stone Mountain in Georgia, outside of Atlanta. We loved both the challenge and the views. Naturally, we had to see if the state park in North Carolina with the same name was just as breathtaking.
What To See In North Carolina’s Beautiful Stone Mountain State Park
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Stone Mountain State Park, NC, is within Wilkes and Alleghany counties. The park is located off Traphill road, six miles southwest of the tiny community of Roaring Gap.
There are no fees to enter the park, and there is a large parking lot at the main trailhead. However, during the busy season, it has been known to fill up, so make sure to arrive early if you are visiting during peak travel times.
It contains miles of trails, a handful of waterfalls, a dome of exposed granite (which is, of course, Stone Mountain), the old Hutchinson Homestead, a picnic area, a visitor center, and a camping area. You can hike, camp, fish, ride horseback, rock climb, and swim in the park.
We stayed two nights in the campground and spent a whole day and a half exploring the trails. Below are highlights from our time in the state park plus, at the bottom of the post, you will find a list of activities that we didn’t do but you might want to.
Upper Stone Falls
If you cannot climb stairs, the only part of Stone Mountain Falls that you will be able to visit is the viewpoint at the top of the upper falls. It is an awe-inspiring view, so no worries if you can’t make it further.
After that is a long set of stairs that will make your legs feel like jello by the time you climb up them on your return to the trailhead.
I told you there we a lot of stairs! And I don’t think this picture shows all of them. We took them slowly, resting here and there as we were at the end of a week full of hiking, and Jack’s knees were already bugging him, and my thighs were aching.
If you do make it down all those stairs, you will be able to enjoy the view of Stone Mountain Falls from the bottom. We were there in early September, so my guess is if you visit during late fall (November) through early spring (April), the waterfall will be running at a much greater volume than these pictures show.
Lower Stone Falls
To get to both the Middle and Lower Falls trails, you must cross Big Sandy Creek two times. The second crossing required us to take our shoes and socks off to keep them dry. There are also more stairs but if you like a bit of adventure in your hike, seeing all three parts of Stone Mountain Falls is well worth it.
The Sunset At The Top Of Stone Mountain Falls
We experienced this sunset view in early September while visiting the park. We were the only ones there taking in the view. I think being on top of the mountain might be a better sunset or sunrise spot than the top of the falls. However, it was still a beautiful sight.
Stone Mountain Loop Trail: With A Few Side Trails Thrown In
The trail to the summit of Stone Mountain in North Carolina is a 4.5-mile loop and is marked as strenuous on the state park trail map. It does have a lot of uphills and several flights of stairs. I would recommend good grippy shoes (I like to hike in these) and perhaps a hiking pole or two if you tend to get thrown off balance easily.
Make sure you pack plenty of water, and if you plan on staying a while at the top, treat your rear end to something soft to sit on–those rocks are cold and hard!
Here is what we use for a daypack for hiking. We like that it has a clip and a pocket on each side to hold and secure our Nalgene water bottles.
Views From The Summit Of Stone Mountain In North Carolina
If I had to choose a winner between the views from Stone Mountain, Georgia, and Stone Mountain, North Carolina, Stone Mountain, North Carolina would win. You can see nothing but green rolling hills for miles and miles, no matter where you look.
Of course, if you like city light views, then Stone Mountain Georgia at night time will be more for you. But as for my husband and me, we love seeing nothing but green hills and blue sky.
Views From Wolf Rock
If you are up for a longer hike, you can combine the Stone Mountain Loop Trail with Wolf Rock Trail and Cedar Rock trail before making your way to the Hutchinson Homestead.
Views From Cedar Rock
The payoff for the longer hike isn’t just more calories burned; it is additional breathtaking views of granite and rolling green hills.
For many, the main event at Stone Mountain Park in North Carolina is the waterfall and the summit trails, but I urge you to get off the Stone Mountain Loop Trail and take in the views of the granite outcrop from Hutchinson Homestead. While there, read the signs about the homestead’s history and explore the remaining buildings. The buildings include a blacksmith shop, a log cabin, a barn, an outhouse, and more.
And make sure you take a few minutes to soak up the view of the backside of the magnificent 600-foot granite dome that is Stone Mountain. In the homestead area, you will find a plaque that states the mountain of igneous rock was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1975.
Jack and I have stayed in many state park campgrounds, and we would put the campground at Stone Mountain pretty high up on our list of great state campgrounds. It had level sites that were a decent size. Sturdy fire pits with grills. And the public restrooms were clean with hot showers.
The campground offered electric and water hookups at most sites. There was a primitive camping area with tent pads for those who prefer tent camping without glamping options beyond a bathroom with running water nearby.
Our only complaint is that the RV site we stayed in didn’t have any trees or shrubs to give us privacy from our neighbors, but an area of the campground did: however, it was packed during our stay.
Get Yourself Some Ice Cream From This Shop Down The Road
We found the Stone Mountain County Store by accident. We were all out of drinking water and were making our way to the closest Dollar General for some more when we saw the County Store up on the hill. We saw the words ice cream on the sign and could not help but stop. We are so glad that we did; prices were economical, the portions were generous, and the ice cream was rich and creamy, just like it should be.
The store also had a little library box out front when we were there. It might be an excellent place to find a book to read back at the campsite.
More Things To Do During Your Time At Stone Mountain State Park, NC
Go fishing– The park has designated over 20 miles of the streams running through Stone Mountain as trout waters rich in rainbow, brown, and brook trout. The park has two accessible fishing piers (check for season information).
Enjoy a picnic in one of the picnic shelters.
Go rock climbing–We didn’t see any climbers, but the Stone Mountain State Park rock face is a popular climbing destination. The climbing areas in the park are not recommended for beginners and require you to obtain a free permit first.
Enjoy an equestrian trail with your horse. The park has several trails that are open to horseback riding.
Hike a portion of the 1,175-mile Mountain To Sea Trail that runs through the state park. If you plan to use one of the backpacking campsites in the park along this trail, you must register and pay for it first.
Take part in a park ranger-led interpretive program–times and availability vary. Check the park website for details.
Hike The Widow’s Creek Trail and stay at one of the backcountry tent sites along Widow’s Creek.
Visit Garden Creek Baptist Church, one of the few original churches in Wilkes County.
Enjoy the sound and sight of Widow’s Creek Falls. It is a popular swimming hole in the summertime. If you want a parking spot near the falls in hot weather, arrive early.
Learn more about the park at the Visitor Center.
There are several wineries in the area where you can enjoy wine tasting while soaking up the vineyard views.
If you love to golf, there are several golf courses within half an hour or less drive from the park.
Under an hour away is Mt Airy, Andy Griffith’s birthplace and the town that inspired his famous TV show.
Two North Carolina state parks nearby are Hanging Rock State Park and Pilot Mountain.
Are you looking for an alternative to busy and expensive campgrounds and one-night Walmart stops on the way to your destination? Check out our post about our first time using Boondockers Welcome.
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