All posts in Sports & Recreation

Zaloo’s Canoes (Canoeing in NC)



Canoeing in NC

The New River is truly a treasure. It has been designated a National Scenic and Wild river and an American Heritage River. Tubing, kayaking or canoeing down the New is the best way to explore this remarkable natural treasure. The water is crystal clear (and cold) and with the exception of a small section of white water here and there, is smooth as glass. This is a great family getaway.

Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Forest

At Rendezvous Mountain you can enjoy winding trails, mountain top views and …Talking Trees!

Rendezvous Mountain Educational State Park is loads of fun for Family and school groups.  Here you can hike the trails, have a picnic and enjoy some of the many educational opportunities.  If you come on a good clear day you may even get to enjoy a hayride!  I first went to Rendezvous Mountain when I was just a little kid.  I remember taking a hayride from the parking area up the mountain where my family had a picnic.  My favorite part about the trip was the hike to see the Talking Trees!  My sister and I would race from one talking tree to the next and take turns pushing the button to hear what each tree had to teach us.  I still enjoy the Talking Tree Trail today but my favorite part now are the many hiking trails and the views. 

Tips for your trip

  • Call ahead.  You may not always need to call ahead but if you are going during the school year and want to avoid a school group it may not be a bad idea to check first. If you are taking a group of friends and family you may want to call and see if a ranger can give you a tour when you arrive.
  • Read the trail map before you get started.  Little ones may not have the energy to walk all of the trails.  Planning your hike will allow you see what you want to see first and not feel exhausted when you reach your favorite parts.
  • Take a camera!!!  The views are amazing and you are sure to see some wildlife.
  • Check the weather.  You won’t want to be there on a rainy day or during a lightening storm.  If the forecast calls for fog you may not get to see the long views until later in the day if at all.  Even if it is foggy there will still be plenty to see on the trails and at the educational sites.
  • Dress comfortably.  Anytime you travel in the mountains you will want to wear sensible shoes and dress in layers.  The weather is typically cooler at higher elevations and earlier in the morning.
  • Take a picnic! There is so much to see and so many great places to have a picnic.  Having lunch on the mountain will be a great way to take a break between hiking trails.

Things to see at Rendezvous Mountain

  • Talking Trees Trail
  • High Mountain Views
  • Fire Tower
  • Forestry Center
  • Hiking Trails
  • Waterfall Trail
  • Cabin
  • Picnic areas
  • Amphitheater
  • Forestry Education Trail 

Weddings and events at Rendezvous

With the picturesque views and calmness of nature all around it is no wonder that couples would chose to be married at Rendezvous Mountain.  One of the most popular locations for any event on the mountain is at the amphitheater, nestled below a tall canopy of foliage. The park has sheltered areas perfectly suited for a casual chic reception. To learn about how you can schedule your event at Rendezvous Mountain call (336) 667-5072.

How to get to Rendezvous Mountain

  • Drive from Wilkesboro towards Boone on US 421 North 
  • Turn right onto NC 16 North 
  • After about 3 miles turn left onto Boone Trail Road
  • In about 3 miles turn right onto Purlear Road
  • In about a mile Purlear Road will become Shingle Gap Road (just keep going)
  • In one mile turn left onto Rendezvous Mt. Road
  • Follow the drive up the mountain to one of the two parking lots

Herring Ridge

Camp Harrison at Herring RidgeHerring Ridge is located in the foothills of North Carolina a short drive from North Wilkesboro.  The camp has more than 2,000 acres of woods, streams, and trails centered around private, 140-acre Lake Broyhill.

Many things bring people from far and wide to Herring Ridge.  One of the largest draws is Camp Harrison, a summer camp for youngsters which offers numerous camping experiences for them to chose from.  Traditional Resident Camp offers over 21 land activities including: archery, paintball, ropes course, sports and crafts. Adventure tracks allow each camper can create their own personalized experience. Campers can spend the morning in their track and spend the afternoon with the entire camp enjoying water activities like kayaking, canoeing, water zip line, waterskiing, the “Blob” and the “Wet Willie”.

Click here to read our Camp Harrison Insider.

Founded on the YMCA’s Christian values, Camp Harrison’s goal is to give campers an amazing summer experience which they will forever treasure.

Events at Herring RidgeHerring Ridge

There is a lot more going on at Herring Ridge besides the summer Camp Harrison program.  Below is a list of some of the opportunities for fun at Herring Ridge.

  • Traditional Camp (kids 6-16)
  • Dude Ranch (kids 8-16)
  • Sportsman Camp (kids 10-16)
  • Farm to Feast Camp (kids 8-18)Herring Ridge
  • Beyond the Ridge (BTR) Leadership Program (kids 13-17)
  • Family Camp (different opportunities throughout the year)
  • Men On Mountain- Father Son weekend
  • Mother/Daughter Weekend
  • Women’s Wellness Weekend
  • Fishing
  • Weddings and More!!!

 Pricing for special events is as follows:

  • Weddings – Outdoor Chapel Rental $1,500.00
  • Family Reunions – $500 for up to 100 people
  • Birthday Parties – Start at $500 for 10 participants.
  • School Groups – Call for dates & pricing.
  • Church Groups – Call for dates & pricing.
  • Teambuilding – 2-3 hours $25 per person/4-6 hours $50 per personHerring Ridge (lunch can be added for a fee of $12 per person)
  • 1 Night/No meals/3 hours of programming – $88 per person (40+ guests)
  • 1 Night & 1 Meal/ 3 hours of Programming – $98 per person (40+ guests)

YMCA Members pay the Y rate on any programs offered. This applies to summer camp as well!  Call (336) 921-7067 to plan your Herring Ridge event.

How to get to Herring Ridge.

  • From US 421 North or South you will take exit 286A (towards Taylorsville and Lenoir) then turn right onto 16/18.
  • Turn right at 4th traffic light (located in front of the middle school) onto NC 18 South (towards Lenoir).
  • The sign for Herring Ridge will be in about 10 miles on your left.

Don’t miss your chance to enjoy the moments and make some memories at Herring Ridge!

W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir

W. Kerr Scott is a place for fun, excitement, rest and relaxation.

W. Kerr Scott Dam & ReservoirResting in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir is the perfect place for a relaxing vacation by the lake or an exciting excursion on winding forest trails or in the water. W. Kerr Scott has so much to offer including camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, ranger tours, children’s water safety activities, bird watching and much more.  You can rent a shelter for gatherings of friends and family, participate in the many cycling events, experience the Tom Dooley Outdoor Drama and concerts at the Forest Edge Amphitheater, or simply unwind and enjoy nature at its finest.

 Campgrounds surrounding the lake include:W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir

  • Bandits Roost
  • Warrior Creek
  • Fort Hamby

Amenities at the lake include:

  • A minimal admission fee
  • Numerous boat launch sites and docks
  • Boating and sailing
  • Children’s activities
  • Environmental Education Center
  • Fishing by boat or from one of the many fishing docks
  • Free parking
  • Gift shop
  • MarinaW. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
  • RV parking
  • Nature center
  • Pet-friendly
  • Picnic areas all over the place
  • Playgrounds near picnic shelters
  • Swimming area
  • Self-guided tours
  • Ranger guided toursW. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
  • Trails for hiking and walking
  • Bike trails with berms
  • Archery course
  • And More!!!


How to get to W. Kerr Scott.

There are many places to access the lake.  The northern shore is closest to HWY 421 while the southern borders 268 which can be reached from 421 by taking exit 286 B.  The way is well marked with signs. 

View Larger Map

W. Kerr Scott Dam & ReservoirW. Kerr Scott Dam & ReservoirThe primary address for the reservoir is:

499 Reservoir Road
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
Phone: (336) 921-3750 

This will take you to the visitor center which is open weekdays from 8:00 to 4:30, November through March.  They are open all week long during the busy season from April to October.  The Environmental Education Center, located in a separate wing of the same facility, is open Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 to 4:00, April 1 – October 31 and by appointment.

Where to get your gear.

Wilderness Lodge 

185 Edmiston Road
Boomer, NC 28606Girl in yellow kayak at W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
(336) 921-2277

Wilderness Lodge is on the lake and offers 
rentals for canoes, kyaks and mountain bikes 
as well as accommodations.


1402 Willow Lane
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659Bike Race at W. Kerr Scott Dam & Reservoir
(336) 667-4121

Cook’s offers a variety of kyaks and bikes
at competitive prices.  They care also a great
place to go for camping gear and repairs.

Foothills Outdoor Adventures

2618 West NC HWY 268
Wilkesboro, NC 28697
(336) 990-0780

This family owned business is located just
below the W. Kerr Scott Dam and offers everything from pontoons to canoes and the River Tub!


The video below was uploaded in 2011 and things have continued to grow at W. Kerr Scott since.  There are more trails, picnic areas and more fun to be had!

Click on the links below to read other insiders about the lake.

Kerr Scott Trails (KST)

Tom Dooley Outdoor Drama

Ski Wilkes?


Ok, ok… I know there is not a ski mountain in Wilkesboro, but there are several in our backyard! We are close enough to make the short trip up the mountain, but far enough to avoid the severe weather issues.

I grew up making the short one hour drive up the hill on U.S. 421 to Sugar Mountain or Appalachian Ski Mountain. (Actually, my very first experience was at Hawksnest) The NCDOT always makes sure that the highways are clear and skiers can get to the slopes, so travel is rarely an issue. So, why would anyone chose to stay in Wilkesboro instead of going up the mountain? Well…

  1. Great hotel accommodations… the Wilkesboro Hampton Inn is a great place to stay and offers great weekend rates for skiers.
  2. Great restaurants… Wilkesboro is home to many of the best sit down and fast food chain and “mom and pop” restaurants, with many more under construction. (
  3. Better weather… by being down the mountain, Wilkesboro doesn’t experience the same extremes that you get up there. (
  4. Shopping… Wilkesboro is home to some of the best chain and boutique shopping available. (
  5. Time savers… Cooks Sporting Goods in North Wilkesboro has all the latest and greatest Ski and Snowboard equipment rentals. You can pick up your equipment here locally and not wait in lines and miss your time on the slopes. Call Roy at 336.667.4121 and tell them that the VisitInsider sent you. (
  6. Did I mention you will save some dough…

Here is how I do my daytrip to Sugar… I rent my equipment the night before and save an hour of waiting at the ski rental shop at the ski mountain. I get up early, eat a good breakfast at the Hampton Inn (free of course!). Hop in car with a cup of hot chocolate in my hand, ski equipment in the trunk, and head up the mountain. I arrive at Sugar at 9:00, purchase my lift ticket and hit the slopes for the day. The slopes are open for day skiing from 9 am – 4:30 pm. Have a great day of skiing. Load up my gear, head down the mountain and arrive back in Wilkes by 6:00 pm. Take a wonderful hot shower and work out the kinks and head out for a great meal at one of the many excellent restaurants in Wilkesboro. If I am up for a second day, repeat.

Here is the good news… the Hampton Inn will extend your checkout to accommodate your schedule. Also, they work with Cooks Sports and is the designated return location for your equipment on Sunday. Now that makes life easy!!

So, to sum it all up… SkiWilkes is the way to go! You will actually save time and money and enjoy your trip more. Call the Hampton Inn at 336-838-5000 and begin making your plans for a great ski weekend today!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

I remember visiting the Christmas tree lots as a kid. It was fun. Seems like there was always a fire in a 50 gallon drum and some guys living out of a camper. But it was still fun. My sister and I usually got to choose, with a very critical eye from a perfectionist father to make sure he guided us to the one that we should choose. We would point to it and the camper guy would untie it and put it on top of our car and home we would go.

Now that is not a bad memory, but in all honesty it comes up way short when compared to the experience that is available today… to you and your kids.

A couple of years ago, I decided to check out the whole “Cut your own” program. The Hampton Inn of Wilkesboro and Holiday Inn Express of Wilkesboro had joined with a tree farm to offer a great deal on a “package stay” that included all kinds of fun stuff and a Christmas tree from the farm. Since I live in Wilkes, I didn’t need the hotel room, but I wanted to do the whole farm thing. So, early on the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, my brother and I loaded up the wives and kids and headed up the mountain. The drive was fun and the views were wonderful. We carried along some hot chocolate and snacks and made the entire trip an adventure.

We arrived at the farm and knew right away that we were in for some serious Christmas fun. The barn at the bottom of the hill was decked out as a Christmas store with lots of items made from the trees and other seasonal necessities. We gave the man our tree voucher and soon he had us on a hayride to the top of the mountain on our search for the perfect Christmas tree. The ride was bumpy and fun! We sang carols and drank our hot chocolate all the way to the top. I believe we sang Jingle Bells and Frosty until I was “sung out”.

At the top of the mountain, our ride came to an end and the search began. The kids found their mountain legs quickly and began the hunt for a tree that needed a home. The laughing and squealing and running will always be part of me, for the rest of my life. We were blessed that it had snowed before we arrived and the ground was white and the trees looked absolutely beautiful. The smell of pine was thick in the air and everything was right at that moment. I stood there and let my senses take it all in. The cool, crisp November air, the scent of Christmas trees, the crunching snow under my feet, the prickly branches of the Frazier Firs and the joyful noise of children running through rows of perfectly manicured trees. That my friends cannot be found on the Christmas tree lot!

After some wonderful time of throwing snow and chasing children, we settled in on finding the tree that would adorn our home as our family remembers the coming of God’s only Son. It didn’t take long, as each tree seemed to be perfect. We identified out tree and our host for the hayride came over and handed me a saw and let me do the honors. Afterward, we loaded up for the ride down the mountain. “Hot” hot chocolate was awaiting our arrival and I enjoyed a cup while we loaded the tree on the top of our car. We listened to Amy Grant’s Christmas songs all the way down the mountain and we knew that Christmas had officially begun at our home.

We are already making plans for our trip up the mountain this year. Maybe we will hit the Daniel Boone Inn for some breakfast before we make the hayride up the mountain. I don’t know the details yet, but this I am sure of, memories will be made and another Christmas will be made special by a trip up to the farm and cutting the perfect Christmas tree. May you and yours have a blessed holiday season. If you make the trip up to the farm, you will not be disappointed. Pack a little patience and let the kids be kids. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Carolina in the Fall

Carolina in the FallWhy Visit Carolina in the Fall?

There is no better time for a visit to western North Carolina than in the fall. The temperatures are perfect, the skies are the bluest and the leaves are changing. Most of my life has been spent in the foothills of NC and I must be honest and say that there is no place I would rather be in October.

Whether you are taking a leisurely drive on the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway, hiking the trails at Grandfather Mountain or descending into Linville Gorge, the crisp mountain air and the stunning colors of the foliage will take your breath away. For those new to the adventure, I will provide you with a few tips for success.

Tips for traveling Carolina in the Fall.

  • First, plan early! Lots of folks know about the amazing Octobers in western NC and they plan on being here. So, go on over to our link for accommodations and book your room NOW at the Wilkesboro Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express! Finding a hotel room on up the mountain will prove to be both costly and difficult. Wilkesboro is a beautiful 30 minute drive from the Parkway in several directions, US 421, NC 16 and NC 18.


  • Secondly, bring every type of clothing you have. : ) As Forrest Gump said, “You never know what you are going to get”. The weather this time of year is very… changeable. If you don’t like today, tomorrow will be different. I have had to wear winter coats and I have been out hiking in shorts, so come prepared for anything.


  • Thirdly, map out your trip. Knowing where to go and when to go will make the most of your days. Do some research ahead of time on some good websites for the area.  Be sure to visit the Parkway website and enjoy! Allow plenty of time, crowds and slow drivers will require more time than you might think.


  • Fourthly, Relax!! There is no better place to go to just relax and breathe in some refreshing. Take a moment right now… close your eyes, imagine you are standing at one of NC’s scenic overlooks, the leaves are a mix of yellows, orange and reds, the temperature is a crisp 55 degrees and all you hear is the sound of the wind in the trees. Yeah, I know… every day should be like that.


  • Lastly, enjoy the people! You are in a friendly part of the world. Don’t be afraid to talk to a stranger. Eat at the Daniel Boone Inn in Boone, NC and chat with your waiter. He/ she will make the meal feel like you are eating at Grandma’s house. Stop at one of the many roadside markets and purchase some sourwood honey, apples or some homemade jelly or jam. (you might even find a little mason jar for sale at some locations)

We look forward to your visit! Come on over; the music, the weather, the leaves and the people are waiting for you. Carolina in the fall… I spell it PERFECT! Check out our video on Youtube…

Appalachian State Football Daytrip

ASU has become a football mecca!

Appalachian State Football One of the best days you can spend in the mountains of North Carolina includes a trip to Appalachian State University to take in an Appalachian State football game. Their victory over Michigan Wolverines propelled them into the national spotlight and winning three back-to-back national championships didn’t hurt either.

Appalachian State Football Staying in Boone on these weekends has become almost impossible; that’s where the Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express in Wilkesboro comes into play. The hotels are just a short 30 minute drive up US Hwy 421 to the ASU campus. Additionally, those choosing to stay in Wilkesboro will save a lot of cash. (and that’s always a good thing)

Appalachian State Football Plan on arriving in Boone early! The crowds are large and the parking is limited. I usually park off campus and hike in or ride the AppalCART bus to campus, depending on the distance. Additionally, betting in your seat early allows you to enjoy the crowd and participate in some per-game fun. If you are a tailgater, there is lots of that going on as well. The smell of BBQ will drive you nuts!

Appalachian State Football The stadium is very nice and the seats are great. You will enjoy the game regardless of where you sit. The people are very welcoming and southern hospitality is on full display (unless you are cheering for the other team). I guarantee a great experience! The great news is that ASU usually wins, so after the game, the folks are feeling great and want to have a fun time.

Appalachian State Football Boone boasts many great restaurants and bars and offers a “fan”tastic game day opportunity to celebrate the win. If you like chains, they offer the standard fare. There are great Main Street food and beverage hometown places. Some of my favorites are Mellow Mushroom, Macado’s, Chili’s and Makados Japanese Steakhouse. But there many others to enjoy, so pick a place and enjoy the food and fellowship.

Appalachian StateThe fall weather is a little unpredictable, so bring something warm to slip on just in case the snowflakes start flying. On the other hand, it might be sunny and hot, so be prepared for anything. After your day of fun, come on back down the mountain to Wilkesboro and have a great nights rest at the Hampton Inn. You can spend the night dreaming about another national championship or just relax and enjoy the night knowing you are saving a fistful of dollars.

Goooo Apppp!

Tubing the Yadkin


The weekend of July 7th , I decided to become a tourist and do a little tubing down the Yadkin River.  As the General Manager of the Hampton Inn here in Wilkes, I always like to try attractions before recommending them to our guest.  My philosophy is “if it’s not something that I would do time and time again, it’s not something I would recommend”.  When traveling out of town guest often rely on Front Desk clerks where they are staying or waitresses to get the scoop on the area.

I decided on Saturday morning to cool down a bit and float the Yadkin River.  I called at the last minute to inquire information about tubing at Super Fly Outdoors located on Hwy 268 West.  I spoke with the owner, John to ask some questions.  He answered everything with ease and assured me that my best girlfriend and I would have a blast.

We arrived at Superfly at approximately 10 am and we decided to make a day of it.  They had several options available:  Tubing for $10.00 a tube, a short kayak/ canoe trip for $30.00 and a long day trip kayak/canoe for $45.00.  We decided to make it a day of tubing because we wanted to just float the river so we could relax, work on our suntans a bit, and have a girl’s day without putting a lot of work into it.

After selecting our tubes, we put in directly behind Superfly.  The staff members helped us ease our tubes in the water and away we went.  The current was slow moving, and the water was cool beneath us.  As we floated we got caught up on our personal lives and laughed at each other’s stories.   Taking in the scenery was almost as refreshing as the cool water.   It’s amazing how quiet and peaceful it was just minutes from town.  We saw several turtles perched on logs (almost too many for comfort), a huge Crane catching his lunch, and we even saw a few fishermen in canoes.  We floated about five miles and it took us approximately five hours.  We tied our tubes together along with an extra tube for our cooler, and took turns pulling each other off the rocks just below the surface.  The river was wide with some deep portions but very slow moving. It’s amazing how when removed from cell phones, electronics, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, things become simple and it’s almost as if your mind resets and you become more focused.

After several hours on the river, our trip was coming to an end.  The river runs parallel to the Yadkin Greenway and we saw several folks running and riding bikes.  At one point we thought we had floated too far.  Shortly after our panic, we saw the STOPPING point!  Two sunburnt women climb out of our tubes and head up the steps to the Smoot park exit.   Shortly after our arrival several other tourists on kayaks and canoes arrive.  As we are waiting for our pick up from SuperFly, it was fun to listen to the stories of the other participants.

Super Fly arrived promptly and loaded all the tubes, kayaks, and canoes.  We climbed in the van and they so kindly took us back to our cars.  Would I recommend Super Fly Outdoors?  Absolutely!  The staff was courteous and professional at all times.  It’s nice to know that other businesses in town have the same focus as our hotel, 100 % customer service.  I have recommended several of our guest to try out Super Fly Outdoors since our little excursion and each have come back with rave revues.  I do plan on making another trip this summer with my daughter, and this time I just may try kayaking!




Stone Mountain

Stone Mtn

Stone Mountain State Park is 14,000 acres of natural beauty. Waterfalls, mountain streams, 17 miles of trout waters, 21 miles of pristine hiking trails and of course a 600 foot tall dome of granite are what awaits the visitor to the park. Words will fall woefully short in describing the setting of this magnificent National Natural Landmark. A few words that begin to paint the picture would be “breathtaking”, “amazing”, “picturesque”, “undisturbed”, oh and did I mention “breathtaking”. Really, the only thing to say is “you have got to come experience this”.

Getting There

Stone Mountain State Park is located in Wilkes and Alleghany counties, six miles southwest of Roaring Gap. From I-77 North, take Exit #83/Hwy 21 North/Sparta/Roaring Gap (you will exit from the left lane). Go north about 13 miles to Traphill Road/ State Road 1002, (you will see a brown state park sign) and turn left. Go about 4 miles to John P Frank Parkway (you will see a brown state park sign) and turn right. Follow the parkway to the park.

From the west, take NC 16 to NC 18 in North Wilkesboro and then turn right onto Hwy 268 East. Go about 3 miles and turn left at Airport Road. Go about 4 miles and turn left this becomes Traphill Rd (SR 1002). Follow Traphill Rd to John P. Frank Parkway about 11 miles and turn left; follow the parkway to the park.

View Larger Map

First Things First

The climb to the top of the Dome is not for the faint of heart, so do some walking ahead of time. In the past few years, a new, much easier path to the top of the Dome has been constructed, but it is still a pretty good hike with lots of elevation change. The old, awesome climb is a challenge to almost everyone, but it is well worth the effort. One word… breathtaking…. In every way!

Water! Pack some cold water in the backpack for the hike. This is a long, time consuming hike that calls for refreshment as you go. I have packed a lunch several times and sat atop the Dome and enjoyed the view while I ate. Also, there are very nice picnic shelters with grills available for use, call ahead to reserve.


Parking is available at two main lots, each of which is focused on the trail you are choosing. The Upper Trailhead Lot should be used for those that are looking for a more casual hike (still a pretty good hike and I recommend this trail for those that want to bring their dog with them). The Lower Trailhead Lot is to be used by those wanting the full Stone Mountain experience. This lot gives you fairly easy access to the Hutchinson Homestead and the base of Stone Mountain Falls. Additionally, there is parking all along the Parkway where picnicking, creek wading, trail hiking and fly fishing is available. The map at this link is pretty good….. So, print it out and carry it along for the day. As far as parking goes, I have never visited the park where I could not find a space; however, weekends can be pretty crowded.


I have never camped at the park as I only live 30 minutes away, but I have talked with people that have and have heard great comments about camping in the park. There are campsites for every type of camper. Hike in, rustic; drive in fairly rustic and drive in with power and water. A total of nearly 100 sites are available for reserving…. This link will take you where you need to go for camping information….

Food and Beverage

If you want to eat in the Park, bring your own food and beverage. Pack a picnic and enjoy the great setting the park has to offer. One of my favorite memories of Stone Mountain is picnicking beside a stream with my wife and two children, (ages 4 and 7 at the time), watching them play in the stream and make mud pies while I did some fly fishing downstream.

If you don’t want to eat in the park, there is an awesome little country store on the Parkway before you enter the park (on the right side of the road). They have great grill food and plenty of hand dipped ice cream and ice cold drinks. The store is wrapped with a porch and they provide lots of old fashioned rocking chairs to enjoy the mountain breeze while you devour that cone of Cookies and Cream. (this is making me want to go right now) I really love to stop at this little country store and hate that I missed stopping there in the past.


  1. Dress in layers, you are in the mountains of North Carolina and you really don’t know what you are going to get weatherwise. Some days are scorching hot, some are perfect and others are downright chilly.
  2. Wear great hiking shoes. Don’t skimp on this, your feet will yell at you later.
  3. Wear comfortable clothes. Up and down hills, climbing steps and sitting on boulders calls for the right kind of clothing. Dress appropriately.
  4. Take your time. You will not cover this entire park in a day, so slow down and enjoy what you are doing. If there is a bench… sit on it. Someone before you determined that something needed looking at or thinking about, so do both. Getting in a hurry here can cost you more than time.
  5. Stay on the marked trails and off the slick rocks. Needless to say, there is danger at this park for those that choose to explore outside the designated area. Many have fallen to their deaths by stepping into the water at the top of the falls. Common sense is needed, if it looks dangerous, it probably is. Go home safe.
  6. Talk to people. Meet the folks that have come to the park. They are just like you. They love nature and can tell you about special things to watch for or which trail to take to see something. Be part of the Stone Mountain Park community and enjoy time with others.
  7. Stop at the Country Store on the Parkway! Seriously, this is a must! Spent and few minutes and a few bucks and enjoy the ice cream with those you love…. Make a memory that will last a lifetime. (I don’t own the store or even know the folks that do)
  8. Drive the entire loop. Enter on the Parkway and leave by Long Bottom Road. I know you don’t want to get your car dirty, but the drive is worth it.
  9. Watch for trout. I love to hike beside the streams and watch for trout. You will be amazed where you will find them.
  10. Slow down. Enjoy the park. In my opinion, this park is the best thing northwest North Carolina has to offer. Don’t miss this! And don’t leave too early, the deer are in the meadows in the evenings.
  11. Drive slowly, the deer are everywhere.


In closing, I want to make this plea to you. If you love nature and the great outdoors, don’t miss this park. “Stunning” is the word that comes to my mind.  Whether you are a serious climber or a recreational hiker, Stone Mountain State Park offers endless days of pure outdoor enjoyment, oh and one more thing… The sunsets are amazing!

Visit the state website at