OverviewNorth Carolina's Stone Mountain (actually, there are no less than seven "Stone Mountains" just in NC alone) is almost as impressive as Georgia's Stone Mountain. It's quite massive in it's own right, standing about 700 feet above its base, and sporting granite faces that provide some of the best climbing in the east (with routes rated to 5.4). However, this mountain is surrounded by much higher terrain, with some of the loftiest mountains in eastern North America rising nearby. Thus, Stone Mountain is seemingly dwarfed by many of its nearby neighbors, and the mountain is almost invisible until you come upon it. (There are good views of it from the Blue Ridge Parkway.)
The mountain has a good water table near the summit and has the distinction of bearing a 200 foot waterfall that plunges down one face. Stone Mountain also shows some textbook examples of exfoliation, with genuinely stunning blocks of granite that sheered off visible at the foot of the principal face. It's fun to stand across the meadow from the base and try to reassemble the jigsaw puzzle of enormous stones in one's mind.
The park surrounding the mountain has a number of waterfalls and a system of trout streams full of some of the cleanest, clearest, high quality water in the state.
Getting ThereFrom I-77 turn west onto US 21. Veer left onto Traphill Road (SR 1002) and follow it to the John P Frank Parkway. Follow that into the park. From the west take NC 18 north and turn right onto Traphill Road (SR 1002). Follow to John P Frank Parkway and turn left, following the parkway into the park.
Red TapeNo fees to enter this park. The main campground fees are $15 per day, per site. Backcountry sites are $9 per day.
If you are going to climb, all climbers must register either at the park office or self-register at designated climbing sites. You can only climb in designated areas. Novice climbers are discouraged from climbing without an experienced climbing companion.
When To Climb
All year. It can get very hot on the mountain in summer.
CampingCamping is allowed in the park at the developed campground and at designated backcountry sites.
Mountain ConditionsCheck weather conditions in Sparta, NC and add a few degrees.
RoutesSeveral walkup routes. The best being the Stone Mountain Loop Trail. This is a round trip of four miles when walked from the parking lot at the main picnic area. The first .75 miles is VERY strenuous (I'm a steady walker and it winds me every time). The next 1.25 miles along the summit is rather easy with views from the granite face and the cliffs below. The trail continues on down past the falls, and to the meadows below for a round trip total of a little over four miles.
There are a number of climbing routes from the meadow to the summit, some rated 5.5 and 5.4. However, I'm not a climber and I'm not qualified to rate them. I leave that to others.