Stone Mountain Loop Near Roaring Gap, NC

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).

Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Settlement, Roaring Fork, North Carolina, Life in Boone

Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Settlement

Hikers: myself, wife and daughters Charlotte age 12 and Izzy age 10 and our dog Indy.

Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Settlement, Roaring Fork, North Carolina, Life in Boone

We parked at lower parking area.

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.

Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Settlement, Roaring Fork, North Carolina, Life in Boone

There were several buildings at the homestead. If walking is a challenge for any reason, there is a special road that can be used to park right by here.

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.

Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Settlement, Roaring Fork, North Carolina, Life in Boone

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.

Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Settlement, Roaring Fork, North Carolina, Life in Boone

It was a tough climb to the top but even Isabel said the views were worth it.

We Torgs highly recommend this hike!

Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Settlement, Roaring Fork, North Carolina, Life in Boone

Pick your poison: up the steps to the mountain or these to the top of the falls.

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.

Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Settlement, Roaring Fork, North Carolina, Life in Boone

The girls and Indy the dog were glad for a chance to cool off at the bottom of the falls.

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.

Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Settlement, Roaring Fork, North Carolina, Life in Boone

It took everything Charlotte had to finish this hike!

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!
Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Settlement, Roaring Fork, North Carolina, Life in Boone

Ice cream at the Stone Mountain Country Store gave us a boost!

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!


Twelve Places I’ve Lived: Journal Entry July 3, 2018

For the something like twenty-three years since I stopped living with my parents, I have moved a lot. This hasn’t necessarily meant I changed jobs a lot. After all, I worked at St. John’s University in New York for eleven years. I am able to remember how long I have been married by adding one year to my oldest’s age. Here’s to hoping I can continue to remember my daughters. It seems to be getting a little harder to remember my own. With a move to Boone, North Carolina on the horizon, I’m going to try and remember the places I’ve lived since I’ve been married.

  1. Megan and I started on the top floor of a tall apartment building on Church Street in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  2. We moved to Milledgeville, Georgia for graduate school and brought our daughter home to a three bedroom apartment.
  3. My second year of graduate school Megan worked as a resident director of a dorm and we lived there.
  4. When I got the job in New York, we lived in a two-bedroom apartment under Hell Gate Bridge in Queens.
  5. Megan and I bought our first house in Stratford, Connecticut.
  6. We moved back to Queens, this time to College Point where we used to sit in the park and look across the water to LaGuardia airport and watch the planes take off.
  7. We moved back to Connecticut, this time to New Canaan. It was another Church Street, this one up the street from the library.
  8. We moved to an old farm house outside of New Canaan where the neighbor offered our land lady a million dollars for the place so he could make it part of his backyard.
  9. Our family moved to Asheville.
  10. I also rented a studio apartment in Glen Cove on Long Island. I felt like the Great Gatsby might live up the street.
  11. Our family stayed another year in Asheville, and I moved from the rental to a different studio apartment, this one in Kew Gardens where the sound of the frequent trains on the Long Island Railroad woke me each morning.
  12. I’m now sitting in our home in Greenwood, Indiana. It’s sold. We don’t yet know where we’re going to live in Boone.

What to make of all those moves? I don’t yet have a theory.

Kept writing past 7 minutes today. Word count: 383

Accused of Being a Pessimist: Journal Entry June 30, 2018

We’ve accepted an offer on our house in Greenwood, Indiana. When you put a house up for sale, there are moments when you think it will never sell. Even with an accepted offer, most times I’ve been involved in the process, there are lots of highs and lows. I am the sort of person who tries to keep an even level of emotions. I have been accused of being a pessimist. For example, if we’re on a road trip and my daughters are excited about the hotel pool, I try and get them to at least be open to the possibility that the pool is going to be closed. Maybe there will be a problem with the chlorine levels? My writing here just reminded me of Wally World being closed. It can happen! There were some premature victory laps on our house sale. We hope this deal continues to completion.

William Bill Torgerson journal

It can happen! (image from Bad Idea T-Shirts)

We are moving to the Boone, North Carolina area. It’s where Appalachian State University is, and I will be a lecturer in composition there starting next fall. Boone is in Watauga County, very close to Tennessee and Virginia. I know that the county shares a border with Tennessee.

We don’t know if we are going to rent or purchase a home. The school set up in Watauga County is unlike what I am used to. There are eight K-8 schools that all feed into a high school in Boone that has an enrollment of approximately 1300 students. The school size is similar to where I was teaching this year at Greenwood High. However, unlike Greenwood which is probably one of the smallest geographical areas in the state, Watauga Schools are really spread out. There can be as much as 20-30 miles between schools.

Other news at our house? Our oldest got her braces off. My mom and youngests daughter’s birthdays are coming up. My sis is coming from LA for the 4th of July.

Maybe next time:

  • New Job, Looking back, Looking ahead, Giving up a high school coaching position

7 minute writing: 323 words

Thanks for reading!

Grandfather Mountain Hike

We Torgs used a day off from school (thank you for your service, Veterans!) to drive east and hike at Grandfather Mountain near Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

Upon our arrival, we were told the top of the mountain, where the swinging bridge and most of the trails are located, was closed due to high winds. Warning to anyone who is interested in going: it’s $20 per adult and $9 for kids to be admitted to the park. Also of note: you can park on the Blue Ridge Parkway and hike in if you’re up for it. That’s what I’ll do as soon as our kids can handle the hike. We were admitted for half price since the top of the mountain was closed.

After about an hour inside the park, the top was opened. Here are some pictures and video from our visit:


the bridge at Grandfather Mountain


it was still windy on the bridge


ladders were fun and scary


a video from the ladders


Grandfather Mountain, hiking, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

My wife Megan started to get nervous here.


Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone, North Carolina, Hiking, Blue Ridge Parkway

We did it!

Western North Carolina as Biodiversity Hotspot

Do you even know the names of the trees in your backyard?

I came across that question in an article written by Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, a biologist and professor of environmental studies at Brevard College.  Her question grabbed my attention and caused me to think about the 147 miles of water I’d passed through with my family on our recent French Broad River rafting trip. I knew I couldn’t name all of the trees in my backyard and certainly not many of the organisms big or small that live in the French Broad River. I got in touch with Jennifer and she said she was willing to tell me about organisms that live in the water and their importance to the region of Western North Carolina. I learned a lot talking to Jennifer. Hope you enjoy our conversation!



I talk biodiversity and the French Broad River with Professor Jennifer Frick-Ruppert of Brevard College

Two of Professor Jennifer Frick-Ruppert’s books have been published with more on the way:

  • Mountain Nature: A Seasonal Natural History of the Southern Appalachians
  • Waterways: Sailing the Southeastern Coast
  • Click here to learn more about Professor Frick-Ruppert’s books on her Amazon page.


You can also listen to the podcast by searching for “Torg Stories” on the podcast app of your iPhone. We’d appreciate it if you’d subscribe and review on iTunes.

Thanks for listening!