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Stone Mountain? A big park ... with even bigger views

By Mark Alan Hudson
Correspondent

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    Stone Mountain State Park is at 3042 Frank Parkway, Roaring Gap. For rate, programs, hours and directions: http://1.usa.gov/18pgHXk. Camping reservations may be made online or by calling 877-722-6762.



Stone Mountain State Park is a big place with lots to offer, including some big views.

Distance

From Charlotte, it’s about 95 miles – less than a two-hour drive.

To see and do

With almost 14,000 acres, the park’s 400,000 annual visitors have lots of room to roam. While its namesake 600-foot granite dome is its most visible feature, it is only one of many things to explore.

With nearly 18 miles of trails, hiking here is a treat with views changing with the seasons. A strenuous loop trail will allow you to climb 600 feet to the summit of Stone Mountain, at just over 2,300 feet above sea level. It is also a favorite spot for experienced rock climbers: They’ll be treated to a beautiful vista of the Blue Ridge. Another trail option takes you to a 200-foot waterfall.

For the fisherman, nearly 20 miles of streams offer some excellent trout. Some stream sections are catch-and-release, some are delayed-harvest; there are two handicapped-accessible piers and a “Fish for Fun” section.

Like to camp? Three loops offer 90 sites: One loop is reserved for tent-camping only. Sites have tables and fire rings; there are two bathhouses that have hot showers. There is also a group campground with its own bathhouse and six primitive sites (1.5- to 3-mile hike required). All sites offer some excellent views and personal space.

If you are just going for the day, there’s an expansive picnic area that provides access to several of the more moderate trails and the waterfalls. It has nearly 75 tables, strategically placed grills, three shelters and a nearby restroom. Tables are first-come; shelters can be reserved.

The park, established in 1969, was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1975 and is more than a “pretty face.” An abundance of flora and fauna are found here and animal life is plentiful.

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