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Stone Mountain Park Backcountry Hike

1/19/2014

SHOW ME WHERE THIS IS

On Sunday, January 19, 2014, I took a hike in Stone Mountain State Park. Instead of going on the traditional trail over Stone Mountain peak, I went to the back country. There are six back county camp sites in the northwest part of the park - as opposed to the car camping camp sites in the northeast part of the park. To get to the back country sites you have to backpack in your gear.

The weather was typical mid-winter: air temperature in the high 30ís, ice and old snow in spots on the trail and in the creek, mixed sun and clouds, no rain and mild wind.

The trail starts on the main park road and goes northwest following Widows Creek, thus it is called Widows Creek Trail. About half the trail distance is shared with the Mountains to Sea Trail. A little over a mile in, the Mountains to Sea Trail forks off to the right and heads nearly straight north up the mountain, to where it terminates at Devils Garden Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I stayed on the Widows Creek Trail and explored all the camp sites. Amazingly, despite the freezing cold weather, I found one tent at campsite A (the closest one to the road) where somebody was camping. In the event that any of you, my readers, may camp at one of these sites in the future, here is what I found.

Camp site A: has water, close to the trail, little privacy, moderate tent site. Camp site B: has water, farther from trail, some privacy, moderate tent site. Campsite C: no water, off the trail, good privacy, not good tent site. Campsite D: no water, off the trail, good privacy, not good tent site. Campsite E: water, close to trail, little privacy, not good tent site. Campsite F: water, at dead end of trail, good privacy, best tent sites (multiple).

Even though the trail follows several creeks, the streams are too small to fish. There were enough cars in the parking lot to accommodate about a dozen hikers or back packers, but I did not see any except the one tent and two other hikers.

Be forewarned, the side trail from Widows Creek Trail to Campsites E and F is rough, poorly maintained, not marked and easy to lose in several places where it crosses the creek without bridges. When in doubt, stop and look around. You will eventually find the trail, either crossing the creek or extending steeply up the hillside.


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