The namesake strenuous trail of Stone Mountain State Park in the upstate of North Carolina.
In the upstate of North Carolina, near Roaring Gap in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Parkway, is the beautiful and unique state park – Stone Mountain State Park. At over 14,000 acres in size, there is plenty to see and do inside the park but if you had to choose only one thing to do, we highly recommend checking out the Stone Mountain Loop Trail. This 4.5 mile strenuous trail gives you a little bit of everything and is a great way to experience the park. The trail takes you to historical structures, a waterfall, and the summit of Stone Mountain for some epic views of the area.
Stone Mountain State Park is a 14,353 acre park in the upstate of North Carolina. It is centered around the namesake granite dome, Stone Mountain, which rises 600 feet above the surrounding terrain. The park supports just about every outdoor activity imaginable including some of the best rock climbing available in the state. Like all of the North Carolina state parks, there are numerous and well maintained facilities onsite in addition to friendly and helpful staff.
Stone Mountain State Park is located at 2042 Frank Parkway in Roaring Gap North Carolina. Since it is a state park, there are plenty of road signs and the park entrance is very easy to find. For the loop trail, there are two parking areas that can be used to start the hike – the Upper Trailhead Parking lot and the Lower Trailhead Parking lot. These massive parking areas are clearly marked off the main road, Stone Mountain Road, that circles the park. Stone Mountain
State Park is about 1 hour from Winston-Salem or 1 hour 45 minutes from Charlotte. There are restroom facilities at both parking areas.
The trailhead, at both parking areas, is clearly marked and starts near the restroom facilities. For both locations there is a short spur from the lot that connects to the loop. We started our hike from the lower lot and went counter clockwise on the loop. We will describe the hike from that perspective.
Very shortly after leaving the lot you will encounter the signed loop trail which is blazed in orange blazes. We went right and headed towards the historic Hutchinson Homestead. The trail is in great shape and has nice bridges in place for all creek crossings. Initially the trail stays relatively flat although it does have a few minor ups and downs. When you encounter the trail to Wolf Rock, stay left on the orange blazed loop trail.
After a short distance you will reach the Hutchinson Homestead at an amazing spot where the forest opens up to a beautiful view of Stone Mountain. While you still have a 4 mile strenuous hike in front of you, the homestead is worth checking out and is only about 200 feet off the trail via a bridge that crosses over the creek.
The Hutchinson Homestead has a number of historic buildings and informative sign boards that can be explored to learn about the history of this area. The homestead also has an exclusive handicapped parking lot so that everyone can enjoy this park destination.
The loop trail continues through the pasture next to the homestead and has great views of the mountain. On the far end of the pasture there will be another split where several other trails head off the right and the wide Stone Mountain Loop Trail continues on the left fork.
You will be paralleling a creek for a bit through a beautiful section of the forest before encountering some long steps and reaching the beautiful 200ft Stone Mountain Falls. This long cascading waterfall is definitely worth checking out and is just before you start the real climb up to the summit of Stone Mountain.
After you enjoy the waterfall, continue up the 1,000+ steps that lie before you. There may not actually be 1,000 steps but there are a lot of them. They do lead to a nice observation deck towards the top of the falls that provide another perspective of Stone Mountain Falls.
When you reach the top of the steps there will be one last spot to view the falls from the very top. The now stairless trail continues up the mountain but at a much lower incline.
Shortly you will reach the spur that connects to the upper parking lot which is where you would be joining the trail if you parked there. From this point you are 1.4 miles from the summit. The trail continues its relentless uphill climb up the rock while you are still on a dirt and forested section. Soon, however, you start reaching the rocky sections of the trail where the blazes will be painted on the rock. You also start getting some great views at this point.
The trail will switch between rocky and forested sections while you continue your climb up to the summit plateau. There will be numerous view opportunities as you near and reach the top of Stone Mountain. Our advice is to find the spot that works for you, pause, relax, and enjoy the view from atop North Carolina’s Stone Mountain.
As you reach the far side of the summit plateau, the trail will very obviously start the descent via a somewhat steep section of the rock. There is a cable handrail that can be used to help with the initial section until you reach the stairs. There are a lot of stairs going down on the summit side of the mountain which feels steeper than the other side. The steps eventually give way to a trail that will switch back for a while before leveling off as you encounter the road leading to the handicapped parking lot at the Hutchinson Homestead.
After crossing the road the trail will continue for a short distance before encountering the spit back to the lower parking lot and completing the Stone Mountain Loop Trail