Last updated: December 31. 2013 1:06PM - 1456 Views
Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter

Stone Mountain State Park is home to white-tailed deer, both gray and red fox, bobcats, and a variety of other animals.
Stone Mountain State Park is home to white-tailed deer, both gray and red fox, bobcats, and a variety of other animals.
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ROARING GAP — Stone Mountain will join North Carolina’s other state parks in a special New Year’s Day hiking experience.

All state parks in North Carolina will be participating in the “First Day Hike” Wednesday. Two hikes are being promoted by Stone Mountain: one moderately hard and another labeled family-friendly.

“Our first hike will be the hike to Wolf and Cedar Rock,” Park Superintendent Janet Pearson said. “The hike is going to hike up the Loop Trail and then hike the Wolf and Cedar Rock loops and look off into vistas up toward the Blue Ridge [Mountains].”

The hike lasts about two hours and offers the adventurous a more demanding hike.

“It’s a moderate to strenuous hike, and we just encourage everyone to wear appropriate footwear and bring anything that they would need for hiking that day, whether its water or hiking poles,” Pearson said. “And a great attitude.”

The other available hike takes adults and children on an easier one-hour loop to view historic sites located inside the park.

“We actually have a Kids TRACK trail here in the park that’s dedicated as a family-friendly hiking trail,” Pearson said. “It goes up to the Hutchinson Homestead. And then we have a display that has four guides that goes with that trail, and there will be a ranger to guide the families up to the homestead and talk about the local flora and fauna while they’re on the way.”

Both hikes begin at 10 a.m. at the Lower Lot Trailhead, a parking area where many of the park’s trails converge. The area is located just past Widow’s Creek Falls for visitors entering from the lower park gate, and has restrooms and telephones for visitors’ use.

All hikers are encouraged to wear appropriate footwear for the event.

“This will be our third year” participating in the event, Pearson said. “We had a great First Day Hike last year and ended up hiking five miles through rain and everything. They had a small group that they got to go out and hike to the Stone Mountain Falls. But then they also hiked the Bridle Trail and looked at some of the old steel sights in the park.”

“Everybody just had a great time so this year we decided to offer two” hikes, Pearson said.

Other hikers will be able to travel on the trails Wednesday, but only these two trail events will have ranger guides available.

The park is open to the public 364 days of the year.

From November to February, the park operates from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. In March, April, September and October, the park opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. From May to August, the park is open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Stone Mountain State Park is closed each year on Christmas Day.

The program hopes to draw visitors to the parks and start the year off with some of the state’s most breathtaking scenery. In the two years since the event began being held, the State Parks department estimates more than 6,000 miles have been traveled across North Carolina.

With more than 14,000 acres and 16 miles of trail available to the public, Stone Mountain is the perfect place to hike-in the New Year.

Reach Taylor Pardue at 835-1513 or at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.

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