Thursday, January 1, 2009
(photo above: view of Stone Mt. from homestead)
Roaring Gap, NC
Stone Mountain is a great day hike for those in the Winston Salem area. Approximately a 45 minute drive to great hiking. If you like waterfalls this is a wonderful place to visit. I have traversed this park many times in the past two years and always find it beautiful anytime of the year. In the spring the colors are amazing and little alcoves by the stream side come alive with vivid greens of the flora. In the summer there many points to stop and enjoy the water, be it in a pool at the base of a waterfall or the streambed itself. Of course in the fall it is ablaze with the leaves changing.
(photo left stairs going up trail from lower parking lot)
I personally like the Stone Mt. Loop trail, starting at the lower parking lot makes a more strenuous hike. The views at the top are amazing and well worth the climb. The park has recently added wooden stairs to a large part of the trail going up from the lower parking lot. This makes the trail a lot easier to follow to the top. Once you reach the summit itself you have views of the homestead below and the surrounding mountains. Pack some snacks and sit down and enjoy the breeze, or lay down on the rock for some wonderful Vitamin D. Following the trail you can reach the Stone Mt. Falls a 200 ft. cascading waterfall with a pool at the bottom to play in.
Middle and lower falls trails can be picked up off of the Stone Mt. loop trail and is usually a nice quiet hike along the stream with beautiful fauna.The middle and lower falls are not that big but as I said if you want a quiet hike with less people this is a good trail.(photo right Stone Mt. falls)
Widows Falls is accessible past the lower parking lot on the right side of the road limited parking is available. It is a short walk to this beautiful waterfall. Usually very busy in the summer with families who gather to slide down the rocks into a shallow pool.
(photo right Widows Falls)
However if you like a solitary hike, a path leads you to the back country parking area where you can backpack in and spend the night if you choose.It is a great day hike also.This trail is steep at the beginning but once you get to the top and go around the bend following the creek bed the flora is absolutely amazing. I have seen only one or two people on this trail when hiking. Keeping your eyes open to the left of the trail there are remnants of a chimney from a home that once stood there. Widows Creek and MST trails are both accessed this way.(MST is definitely an up hill climb for the more serious hiker. Caution is advised as my friend and I encountered a bear on one of our day hikes up this trail.I think the bear was as afraid as I was.) Picking up the Widows creek trail you come to an open area where there are several camping sites to your left and the path continues on to more camping sites. If you go to your right, just off the trail is a secluded waterfall hidden behind some foliage. Do wade over to the falls for some photo ops and re-energizing. Nothing like a cold waterfall to stimulate and refresh one after a hot summer hike.
Stone Mt. has something for everyone, there is a homestead and from there you have a spectacular view of Stone Mt. summit. Water to play in, picnicking, camping, and wildlife abounds. You can hear the birds chirping and deer are plentiful and friendly. They are frequently found by the road side so it is important to drive slow through the park to protect them. Many times people are stopped in the road to feed them apples and such. I think this is a great park with some excellent hiking and fauna.
Please visit my friend Tom Wise's website for more photos of Stone Mountain