Torg hiking journal notes for Stone Mountain Loop Near Roaring Gap, North Carolina. There is a video at the bottom of the post.
Sentence from A Falcon Guide’s Hiking North Carolina book:
“The premier hike here is the Stone Mountain Loop, a 4.5 mile circuit of the summit that takes in the top of the dome, a spectacular waterfall, and views of climbers scaling the rock face” (Johnson 153).
Hikers: myself, wife and daughters Charlotte age 12 and Izzy age 10 and our dog Indy.
Total Distance Hiked: Because of a mistake we made, 5.91 miles, 2 hrs 32 mins and 25 seconds of hiking time. With stopping at top of Stone Mountain and bottom of falls we were on the trail just over 3 hours.
Our directions from Boone are at the end of this post. We drove to Stone Mountain Park from Boone mostly traveling on 421. After our hike, we came home via the Blue Ridge Parkway. We loved the hike for the old homestead, the spectacular views from the top of Stone Mountain, and for playing in the water at the bottom of the falls.
Highlights: homestead, interesting climb over stone using steps and cable hand rails to top of Stone Mountain, walk along falls, playing in pool at bottom of falls, and ice cream at the Stone Mountain Country Store on the way home.
Possible negatives: there were A LOT of steps and one really steep climb depending which way you go to the highlights: either up the side of Stone Mountain or up the falls. We had trouble in a couple of spots following the trail. There are a lot of other hikes and loops within the park. The trail was pretty crowded and with lots of steps, cables, and bridges, less wild than some hikers might like.
We Torgs highly recommend this hike!
We took the John P Frank Parkway into Stone Mountain Park. No charge to enter the park. Keep to the John P Frank Parkway. I saw two ways to do the loop hike. You can park at the Upper Parking area or the Lower. We drove through the upper parking area and weren’t sure what to do. It was very crowded. There was one group of kids–maybe a youth group?–that numbered probably nearly 40 people. It was a beautiful Saturday in August and the whole park was pretty crowded.
We parked at the lower area. Both parking areas are large with restrooms and water. We hiked up to the Hutchinson Homestead. This was a really neat area with quite a few old buildings that were furnished appropriate to time period. There was a large meadow and expansive views of Stone Mountain.
It wasn’t clear where we should go. There was a high school aged attendant at the house. She probably didn’t understand what we were trying to do–walk the whole loop–and she directed to a road that went right back to the parking area from where we’d come. We didn’t figure this out for a long time.
What we should have done was continue past the buildings, across a large meadow adjacent to where people were going straight for the mountain to climb, and do the loop that way. What we did was mostly backtrack on a road by the trail and walk just over an extra mile.
Our route from Boone, NC;
- 421 toward Deep Gap and Wilkesboro
- Left on 16 N Old North Carolina Highway (turn at Wilkesboro ABC store)
- R after Millers Creek Elementary School on Pleasant Home Church Road
- At T, left onto Mountain Valley Church Road
- At T, right on Sparta Road.
- After Cross Roads Primitive Baptist Church (We actually didn’t see this and I was luck to spot Yellow Banks) take a left on Yellow Banks Road
- At the T, just after Viking Pump and Munch (didn’t see this either and as a Torgerson was looking forward to it), left onto Traphill Rd.
- Over the Roaring River (wasn’t roaring)
- After Billings Auto Sales, the Alleghany Spur Road, and Holbrook House, left on John P. Frank Pkwy.
- Stone Mountain Country Store gets good reviews. It was busy and good!
Home on Parkway: The Blue Ridge is accessible via Traphill Road to the east and then a left on 21 North.
Lots to see heading back to Boone but we were too tired!
Torg hiking journal. Sunday, August 19, 2018
Hikers: Myself, wife Megan, daughter Charlotte (age 12) and Isabel (age 10), dog Indy
Parking: Profile Trail Parking Lot off of 105 between Boone and Banner Elk. Near the Pedalin’ Pig.
Distance and Time Hiked: 2.45 miles to Foscoe Overlook. Out and back took us 2 hrs, 18 mins, 49 seconds. We stopped to play in the water, take pictures of bugs, and rest.
Highlights: Water crossings, large boulders, varied terrain of roots, stones, dirt path, wooden steps, great workout
Lowlights: very steep, under the trees and not much of a view at the Foscoe overlook, at least on this day
We’ve lived in Boone for two weeks and so as a family we know we have a ways to go when it comes to our stamina and leg strength. This hike presented quite a challenge.
We started the hike knowing that if we went the full distance to the Grandfather Trail and Calloway Gap that we’d have to turn back because of ladders that we couldn’t traverse. We have done that trail from the other side of the mountain inside Grandfather Mountain property. Note, there is a fee to hike inside Grandfather Mountain Property.
Parking area for the Profile Trail is new and large with nice restrooms. Before starting we filled out the form for registration and placed it in the box. The trail is well maintained.
The hike starts off going down for about a mile. There is a dirt trail, a bridge, and quite a few wooden or stone steps.
I estimate about a mile until the stream/river crossings begin. The water and big boulders were the highlight for us. Unless you’re planning on going all the way to the top, the largest of the boulders wouldn’t be a bad spot to turn around and head back to car.
The path winds and is interesting. There were four groups near us and waiting around near the Foscoe Overlook Sign. All were a little disappointed with that spot. It was a rainy and foggy day but there is a lot of tree cover here. I think if we could have slogged it out another mile, we would have loved the top.
We did meet a woman who lived in the area who said it was her favorite hike.
Torg Hiking Journal
John Updike’s story “A & P” is the first story I remember reading that seemed like I could have lived. It’s about a kid who works in a grocery store and three girls about his age come in wearing bathing suits. I worked in a grocery store as a teenager. It was a family owned store called Russell’s Old Trading Post, and one of the things I remember about that was almost no one my age ever came in to the store. In Updike’s story the manager tells the girls they aren’t dressed appropriately. The kid in the story tries to stand up for them, a chivalrous move probably intended to impress the girls. The girls don’t seem to notice the kid’s attempt. They leave. The kid gets fired.
Having read the C.S. Lewis Narnia series and a bunch of Louis L’Amour Westerns on my own and then stories like Beowulf and “The Monkey’s Paw” in school, those stories didn’t trigger anything inside me from the standpoint of thinking about the sort of story I might tell. Lewis caused me to check the inside of closets for secret passages and Star Wars prompted me to try and move objects in my room with the force. With Updike’s story “A & P,” there was just the start of looking at the world to see what stories could be told and for what reason.
7 min free write word count: 231
You can read Updike’s story by clicking here.