Where is Stone Mountain State Park
Stone Mountain State Park resides in Alleghany and Wilkes county in northwestern North Carolina. The US State Park is mostly known for Stone Mountain; a Devonian age granite dome which towers over the park. Stone Mountain can be seen from miles away and its slabs of exposed rock provide arguably the best rock climbing in North Carolina. Stone Mountain State Park also contains several hiking trails, a campground, two historic buildings and a few creeks and streams which anglers can access to fish for brook trout. The two historic buildings found within the state park are the Hutchinson Homestead and Garden Creek Baptist Church.
How Large is Stone Mountain State Park
Stone Mountain State Park covers over 14,000 acres. The park’s grounds are mostly covered by forests and riparian zones. Chestnut oaks are the primary tree found in the forest surrounding Stone Mountain. However, other species present include black oaks, red maple, hickory, white pine, and dogwood trees. Stone Mountain itself extends 600 feet over the surrounding forests and park grounds. The highest point in the park, Stone Mountain sits at an elevation of 2,305 feet. Other parks located near Stone Mountain State Park include Elk Knob State Park, Grayson Highlands State Park, Mount Jefferson Natural Area, New River State Park, and Pilot Mountain State Park.
Stone Mountain State Park Weather
The weather at Stone Mountain state park varies throughout the year. In summer, temperatures in the park average between 60- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. Winter temperatures in the park average between 25- and 55-degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest days of the year normally appear in January and February, and the warmest days arrive at Stone Mountain State Park normally in July or August. On average, the park receives about 80 days of rain per year. This rain accumulates in Stone Mountain State Park throughout the year and normally reaches yearly totals of around 50 inches. Snowfall in the park is common in winter. The average yearly snowfall totals for the park and surrounding area is around 18 inches. More than half of this snowfall normally occurs in January and February.
When did Stone Mountain become a State Park
Stone Mountain state park officially became a part of the North Carolina state park system in 1975. However, the park’s first designation occurred a year prior. In 1974, Stone Mountain was added to the list of National Natural Landmarks. Stone mountain is one of the largest monadnocks located in the eastern United States. Before a park resided on the land surrounding Stone Mountain, European settlers, mostly German, English, and Irish families built homesteads in the area. One of these homesteads is still protected by the park. The Hutchinson Homestead includes a log cabin, blacksmith shop, and original furniture. The homestead is open to the public Thursday through Sunday within the months of March and October.
Things to do in Stone Mountain State Park
Stone Mountain State Park provides an endless amount of outdoor recreation. List of Parks outlines the most popular adventures below:
The Stone Mountain State Park visitor center is the perfect place to start your trip. Knowledgeable park rangers working inside of the visitor center can provide trail maps, camping specifics, and answer questions you have about the park. The visitor center at Stone Mountain State Park also contains a Mountain Culture Exhibit that teaches visitors about settler life and the park’s ecology.
Hike the Black Jack Ridge Trail
Following an old roadbed, the Black Jack Ridge Trail winds through some of the most heavily wooded areas in Stone Mountain State Park. Visitors hiking the Black Jack Ridge Trail will be transported away into the deep woods. Wildlife sightings are very common on the trail. Eager visitors can hope to see squirrels, white-tailed deer, and other woodland creatures. In the winter, the Black Jack Ridge Trail provides excellent views of Stone Mountain.
Hike the Stone Mountain Loop
The Stone Mountain Loop is one of the park’s most diverse trails. Starting from the upper or lower parking areas, hikers following the Stone Mountain Loop will summit Stone Mountain pass by the Hutchinson Homestead, and travel near a 200-foot waterfall. The Stone Mountain Loop is 4.5 miles long and is rated as strenuous.
Hike to the Lower Falls
Accessed by the Stone Mountain Loop or the Wolf Rock Trail, the Middle Falls and Lower Falls trail takes visitors along Big Sandy Creek before placing them at the foot of the two falls. The trail is rated as moderately strenuous and adds an additional one-way distance of .5 miles to either of the two starting hikes.
Fish for Brook Trout
Anglers, or visitors looking for a break from the trail, should try their luck at fishing for brook trout in the park’s several streams and creeks. Stone Mountain State Park contains over 20 miles of designated trout waters. Each trout stream in the park has its own harvest restrictions. Interested parties can find the park’s complete fishing regulations on the NC Wildlife Resource Commission’s website.
Hone Your Rock-Climbing Skills
Rock climbers visiting Stone Mountain State Park will rejoice when they see the various routes present upon Stone Mountain. The park’s rock-climbing areas operate on a permit system. Visitors wishing to rock climb must fill out a free permit located at the base of the mountain. These permits must then be turned into a park ranger before starting to climb. Stone Mountain State Park also recommends that no beginner rock climbers climb within the park. The routes on Stone Mountain are highly technical and will test even advanced climbers.
Take a Mid-day Picnic
Stone Mountain State Park manages and maintains a designated picnic area. This area contains over 70 picnic sites and set against a peaceful woodland scene. The picnic sites and three larger picnic shelters are free to use by visitors of the park. Sites come complete with tables and grills. The picnic area contains restrooms and access to the Stone Mountain Loop trail.
Look out for Wildlife
Stone Mountain State Park and the surrounding area is called home by a variety of woodland species. Common species spotted in the park include beavers, white-tailed deer, racoons, turkeys, and box turtles. Other species present in the park include bobcats, red foxes, and pileated woodpeckers.
When to Visit Stone Mountain State Park
Stone Mountain State Park is open to public use all year long. However, the majority of visitors descend upon the park in June, July, and August. During these months and the rest of the summer season, the park’s campground can reach its capacity. Visitors looking to stay in the park during the summer months should make reservations months ahead of time. A trip to Stone Mountain State Park is also enjoyable in spring, fall, and winter. Spring is best for wildlife enthusiasts as wildlife is normally the most active during this time of year. A trip to the park in the fall, offers visitors cooler temperatures and a chance to see the area’s foliage change colors. Winter is a great option for visitors looking to beat the crowds the summer season brings to the park.
Must Have Items to Bring to Stone Mountain State Park
Every trip outdoors requires some packing and planning, and a trip to Stone Mountain State Park is no exception. Our State Park Visitors Guides lists the essential items below.
Water & High Energy Snacks
Water is essential for any outdoor recreation. High energy snacks like beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit, and protein bars are perfect for hikers and rock climbers. These snacks can provide a needed boost at the end of a long day or trail.
Sturdy Hiking Boots
The trails at Stone Mountain State Park are constructed of various terrain found throughout the park. A sturdy pair of hiking boots will allow all hikers to successfully traverse these trails and not have to worry about twisting an ankle. Avid hikers or beginners looking to get into the activity should look to invest in a lightweight and waterproof pair of hiking boots for added comfort and protection.
Temperatures at the summit of Stone Mountain can vary drastically from temperatures found elsewhere in the park. Visitors planning to hike throughout the park should arrive with several layers. These layers can be taken off and added at will.
Anglers visiting Stone Mountain State Park will want to remember to pack all of their freshwater equipment and tackle. Anglers should also obtain and possess a North Carolina state freshwater fishing license before dropping a line in the park.
The campground at Stone Mountain State Park contains a variety of camping sites. Some sites contain electric and water hookups, whereas others are more primitive. Depending on what site you are looking to occupy you may need to bring additional equipment and supplies. A camping checklist is always helpful when packing.
Field Guide & Park Maps
Wildlife field guides are the perfect addition to any hikers backpack. These documents make wildlife and plant identification easy. Hikers in the park should also obtain park trail maps from the visitor center or online.
Where to Stay in Stone Mountain State Park
Visitors looking to stay in Stone Mountain State Park will want to make a reservation for one of the park’s 90 campsites. Campground reservations can be made through the park’s website and reservation portal. Individuals visiting the park in summer should make reservations early. Visitors to Stone Mountain State Park looking to stay in a hotel will find various options in Roaring Gap, Doughton, and Traphill. Each of these three towns are about a 15 to 20 minute drive away. Visitors looking for more options can make the hour drive to Boone or Winston Salem.
Food Near Stone Mountain State Park
The closest food to Stone Mountain State Park will be found in Roaring Gap, Doughton, or Traphill. However, options in these towns are more limited than larger cities like Boone, Winston Salem, or Statesville. Stone Mountain State Park is located an hour north of Statesville, an hour east of Boone, and an hour west of Winston Salem.
Airports Near Stone Mountain State Park
The closest airport to Stone Mountain State Park is located in Charlotte. The Charlotte Douglas International Airport is about 98 miles or an hour and a half drive away from the park.