Stone Mountain State Park, a Rock Climbing Playground

North Carolina Division of Parks and RecreationStone Mountain State Park, a Rock Climbing Playground

Stone Mountain State Park in Roaring Gap

Stone Mountain State Park, part of a 25-mile square plug of igneous rock located primarily in Alleghany County, is a playground for rock climbers, wild goats and families alike. The 600-foot granite dome is not immediately visible upon entering the park that bears its name, but your first glimpse of this magnificent face is well worth the wait.

Boasting sheer and sloping faces, Stone Mountain offers some of the best rock climbing in North Carolina, but it’s best left to experienced climbers as the park does not offer guides or lessons. Climbers must register with the park and secure a climbing permit, available at no cost. Experienced rock climbers are rewarded with a challenging ascent and stunning mountain views.

For those looking to explore Stone Mountain on the ground, hiking trails lead you through much of the 14,000-plus acres of the park. Two trails take you to other rock exposures with great views: Wolf Rock and Cedar Rock. The one-mile Cedar Rock Trail leads you to a granite outcrop that allows for an excellent view of Stone Mountain. Wolf Trail’s slightly longer, 1.5-mile path provides sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The five-mile Bridal Trail is a favorite with horseback riders.

A more strenuous but equally rewarding hike is available via the Stone Mountain Trail Loop. The trail first leads you three-quarters of a mile up to the summit of Stone Mountain then continues another 1.25 miles to the top of Stone Mountain Falls. From the falls, the trail leads two miles to the meadow at the base of the mountains and back to the trailhead. Less experienced hikers or those with small children may want to reverse the route and stop upon reaching the falls. A park map with all trails clearly marked is available.

Anglers can find more than 17 miles of designated trout streams inside the park. Rainbow and brown trout rile the lower stretches of the streams while brook trout populate the higher, cooler waters. Garden, Widow’s and Big Sandy creeks are wild trout waters where only single hook artificial lures are allowed.

Stone Mountain’s camping grounds are a good fit for groups or families with tents, trailer campers or RVs. Organized groups may use the six group campsites available by reservation only. In addition, 37 family campsites come complete with grills and tables for meals, and feature toilet facilities and showers nearby. More adventurous campers can use the six designated backpacking sites available on a first-come-first-served basis.

History buffs can get a taste of what the area was like in the mid-19th century with a walk through one of the park’s historic sites, the Hutchinson Homestead. Here, a log cabin, barn, blacksmith shop, corncrib, meat house and original furnishings take you back in time and illustrate the park’s human history.

Jason Frye

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