Nestled in the heart of North Carolina, Stone Mountain State Park offers more than eighteen miles of trails, matched by more than twenty miles of designated trout waters that spreads below the Blue Ridge Parkway. Majestic views of the Yadkin Valley and Pilot Mountain can be seen from the distance atop the stone summit.
Stone Mountain State Park offers ample parking for the trails at the Upper Trailhead and Lower Trailhead. Clean bathroom facilities can be found right by the parking lot for easy access and conveniently equipped with water fountains and a large trail map. A total of nine trails all very well maintained, marked and taken care of are available to choose from depending on visitors hiking skills.
If you read the brochures available at the beginning of the trail you’ll notice it says that the loop trail is 4.5 miles long, the sign at the Upper Trailhead says that it’s 4.3 miles long so we set on calculating how long it actually is and our smart watch pointed to it being 4.9 miles long from start to end with accent of 977 feet and descent of 1020 feet.
If you choose to park at the Upper Trailhead and start your trek there you’ll follow a short .3 miles long path waving between the woods before reaching the old remaining of a stone fireplace where the connector trail splits.
Either way you go from here if you choose to do the entire loop you’ll be sure to get a good exercise. And if you are not feeling all that motivated you can pick between getting the spectacular views from the top of the magnificent 600-foot granite dome (take a right) which is a pretty easy 1.7 miles hike from the parking lot. This trail is the best to take kids on although make sure you keep them within arms reach as there are several dangerous ledges if you are not careful.
If you choose to take left at the split by the old fireplace you’ll be on the trail leading to the top and base of the 200 ft. cascade waterfall which is the perfect spot for cooling off on a hot summer day and is a nice setting for a delightful picnic with calm and refreshing views of the water rolling peacefully down the rocks.
You’ll pass by the top of the Falls while going down the slippery rock before heading to the stairs. Soon after you start making your way down you’ll be able to take left to a little platform and take a sit on one of the wooden benches for a view of the Middle Falls and a little break to rest your legs. After your little stop continue down the rest of the stairs to the bottom of the Lower Falls.
If that is all you feel like doing for the day make your way back up the stairs and to the parking lot. However if you are still wanting to do more take a right at the bottom of the stairs where you see the split on the way down which will bring you to the restored old homestead beneath the face of Stone Mountain. This very well maintained 19th century American homestead consists of cabins and original buildings as well as several exhibits explaining how things were back then.
The trail snakes through the woods, following the stream with multiple little cascades along the way, wooden foot bridges and rock- hopping opportunities for daring little ones before reaching the face of the massive Stone Wall and the Homestead ahead. The trail is especially beautiful in early Spring and Fall.
If your kids love rock climbing as much as ours, a little path that runs through the lush meadow leads to the bottom of the Granite Wall where they can jump over the large boulders. Actual Rock Climbing is allowed by permit on the towering 600-foot granite face of the landmark mountain.
From here if you choose you can continue the Loop along the path through the woods by taking right pass the wooden bridge. That would also be the way back if you parked at the parking lot at the Lower Trailhead. The trail back is pretty easy until you reach the end of it where it splits.
Once at the end of the path you’ll see the sign that points to the Stone Mountain Loop. That is the most strenuous part of the trail. But the views from the top are worth every single step up all the stairs (and there are a lot of them).
Your trek back from the top of the Stone Wall Dome is mostly downhill and not too hard. Allow yourself at least two and a half hours for the loop and that is if you are in a perfect hiking shape and do not take too long at any of the points of interest. If you truly want to enjoy this beautiful trail we suggest you block at least 4 hours to comfortably explore and enjoy everything there is to do here.
Stone Mountain State Park is part of the Mountain To Sea Trail that traverses North Carolina from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks passing through Elkin Valley, Stone Mountain State Park and continuing to the Sauratown Mountains and Pilot Mountain State Park to Hanging Rock State Park.
If you’ve worked out an appetite after all this crazy hiking we highly recommend a pit stop at the Stone Mountain Country Store which offers a wide variety of delicious food and ice cream flavors sure to satisfy your taste buds especially on a hot summer day.
Affordable family friendly camping is also available at the Park. More information, campsites and prices can be found on their page here.