I was going to save the state parks for weekdays but the weather forecast for the rest of the week was not great. It turned out to be a grey day but no rain. It was very humid but cool so it was not too bad for hiking. Our weather luck actually worked in reverse today because as soon as we got in the car to go home the blue sky and sun came out. It also got very hot so instead of getting some better pictures it may have been the best that it stayed cooler.
The main attraction at Stone Mountain State Park is of course Stone Mountain. Not a great name since all mountains are stone but this one is a giant granite bubble that was exposed by erosion. It has large open areas of smooth (from a distance) rock with no trees. It sort of reminded me of pictures of Ayer’s Rock in Australia (we will get there someday) but with lots more greenery around it.
The trail we did today is called the Stone Mountain Loop Trail. It is 4.5 miles long and climbs up 900 vertical in the first mile to the top of the mountain and from then on it was a steady gentle downhill to the bottom of the loop and a waterfall. The section to complete the loop back to the top was fairly flat which made for a much easier end to the hike.
It started out looking nice and smooth with a gentle grade.
Then the switchbacks started
The corners were steep enough that they used steps.
Finally it got steep enough that they gave up and it was all steps.
LOTS of steps.
A cable to help you up a steep open rock section.
And some raised steps over the even steeper rock face.
We took a break from the climb at the first open area.
The final climb to the top.
From a distance the mountain looked very smooth but it did have some rough spots.
There was a huge open area at the summit that fell away to the valley floor below. It was hard to get a picture to convey the size because the rock always curved out of view.
I walked down a ways until there were signs saying to stop, as it got too steep.
It was only 11 o’clock but we had some of our lunch to restore ourselves after the climb.
It started to get busy. Actually it was such a large area for people to spread out, that it is hard to say it was really busy.
Continuing on, the rest of the top was flat for a while. There were lots of short side trails off to more exposed rock but we skipped them.
Then the long gentle switchbacks down began. I am sure they didn’t seem so gentle to the people coming up.
This must be the most used part of the path as it was wide and smooth. There is another parking lot at the bottom of the loop for people that only want to do this section and the waterfall.
Once the trail levelled out we went near some open areas that we couldn’t resist.
We got a side view of the steeper section of the summit area. Lots of water stains.
We had been playing leap frog with this couple since the start of the hike. Every time they rested we would pass them and vice versa.
Just around the bottom of the loop we came to the top of Stone Mountain Falls.
Not much to see here.
Since it is a 200 foot high waterfall that meant 200 vertical feet of stairs to get to the bottom.
There was a lookout / rest stop halfway down.
Still not much to see.
The falls never really fall. It is just a thin stream that seems to follow the curve of the rock face. This where we had the rest of our lunch.
There was an easy path to a ledge part way up.
These guys just had to go higher. They almost slipped a few times. If you ever did start there was no stopping because of the steepness.
Jennie explored the pool at the bottom.
One spot had a lot of very shiny gold coloured flecks.
The rest of the trail was almost flat. We followed one stream downstream and then another upstream.
This thing really startled Jennie.
I think it was dead because it never moved but I didn’t mess with it.
Next we came to the area below the summit of Stone Mountain where the rock curves down the side of the mountain.
Beside the viewing area was this fenced in tree with a fiberglass fake rock. They must really like them around here as we have seen a lot of houses whose yards have one in the landscape.
There was an old homestead with a few buildings to explore.
On to the final push to the car.
When we got back to were pretty tired but not completely beat. I am glad we did the loop from the starting place and direction that we did. Getting the steep uphill out of the way at the very first and only having downhill after that made the hike seem so much easier.
Since we were not feeling too bad I wanted to stop at one more waterfall. It was only about 100 yards off the road so it was an easy stop.
Widow’s Creek Falls are short but are in an interesting setting with some weird holes in the rock that make it almost look like a distorted yelling face.
Checking to see how waterproof my shoes are. Pretty good it turns out.
I tried a blurry water shot but it was too bright to get a long exposure.
I am not sure if this girl was waiting to slide down the rocks but she sat there almost the entire time we were at the falls.
Just as we were about to leave the sun came so I had to get one more shot.
We had a nice sunny drive home and the rest of the afternoon but it was so hot we retreated to the comfort of the air conditioning.