As I mentioned in my last post, Stone Mountain is located at the base of the Blue Ridge escarpment. At the base of Stone Mountain lies the restored homestead of the Hutchinson family, who lived, farmed, and died in the shade of the large granite dome. What's so great about that? Fascinating look at mountain life aside, it's a good place to get a look at the mountain, to walk to its base, and to hop on the Stone Mountain Loop or Wolf Rock Trail.
From the visitor's center, we drove around the loop to the opposite side of the as-yet-to-be-seen mountain, and parked in the Lower Trailhead parking lot. From there, we took an engaging walk that included several white tail deer, one of which opted to obey crosswalk laws:
By this time, we'd walked up and down a few hundred steps at the falls, and the ankle I'd twisted during our waterfall wanderings smarted. Imagine my dismay when we reached the Hutchinson homestead and saw a small parking lot complete with handicap parking. But it was worth the effort, and we ended up spending a good amount of time in this area.
As we neared the granite mountain, we observed two items of interest. First, the rock was fractured in places:
This is the result of water seeping through cracks and freezing during the winter. Over time, the crack eventually widens, says my book and the geology guy standing behind us at the park. Eventually, the rock sluffs off in a process called exfoliation. The ledge of one such instance is shown below:
The rocks then tumble to the base of the mountain:
Which made us wonder how the Hutchingson's survived! The second item of interest was the rock climbers. Climbing is permitted (restrictions and fees apply), and we spotted two climbers during out visit:
An interesting time at an overlooked destination. Thanks to fellow hiking member, Joe, for pointing us in that direction, and for informing us there are two waterfalls at Stone Mountain State Park, not one. A good reason to return.
For more information on Stone Mountain, go to http://ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/stmo/main.php