If you read about my 5k adventure then you know my husband & I have really gotten into hiking. We started working our way through the NC State Park Passport program back in May with our first visit to Chimney Rock State Park & we’ve gone through 8 parks out of the 41 in NC, so far.
At the end of October, we didn’t just go for a day-hike, we went for a quick weekend camping trip (more on that later). We left around 9 am, arrived around 12 pm, quickly set up our campsite, then headed for the hike, and so far, Stone Mountain has probably been one of our most favorite hikes…the Autumn leaves definitely didn’t hurt the views, either.
We walked about 4.75 miles all the way around the Stone Mountain loop. When we got off the Connector trail, we took a left & got to see Stone Mountain Falls then continued on around the loop from there. It was so amazing being able to see the beauty of nature. We even got to see a few deer in the wild climbing & eating on the side of the mountain. The first half of the trail was pretty easy around the base of the mountain & went right along such a peaceful little creek. About halfway around, there is a really neat historical site that marks the mountain as a national historic landmark & the Hutchinson historical settlement. The second half of the trail got a lot steeper & more strenuous (but it was SOO worth it). By the top, there weren’t even steps, just a steel guideline along the face of the mountain & the trail markers were colored spray paint on the rock face. Even though there was a tropical depression rolling in & the clouds were coming in, the views were still phenomenal. We could look out, see the clouds growing, feel the wind on our faces, little pricks of drizzle starting to come on, & the fire-like Autumn leaves blazing their beautiful colors on the horizon.
Overall, it was an amazing experience. It was a little crowded, people-wise, to start with, especially near the waterfalls closest to the main parking lot, but the further we got into the trail the lower the population got…which made this introverted, nature-loving heart happy.
One warning, when hiking in the Fall in North Carolina, either start your hike early or make sure to bring plenty of lighting. Thankfully we had incredibly bright flashlights, but the last 30 minutes of the hike were a bit stressful trying to look out for the trail markers on the trees as the light got lower & lower.
But overall, Stone Mountain has to be one of my favorite hikes so far, especially with the Autumn colors. The trails were really well kept, pretty well marked & easy to follow, & just stunning along the rivers, waterways, & waterfalls.
As always, make sure that before you head into the wilderness- whether marked or social-trail- to go in prepared. Leave a plan of your hike with someone so that if there’s an emergency, the chances of you being found increase. Always prep with extra water, food, layers, & emergency items. And duck into the park offices before heading in- 1) so you know the park hours, 2) to get an official map, & 3) to get your Park Passport stamped (of course!!).
Overall, it was a wonderful getaway, so if you’re in the Sparta, Mt. Airy, West Jefferson area, make sure to stop by & get your adventure on!