Stone Mountain State Park

SMSPstill The rock is pock-marked with weathering pits as if a giant left footprint impressions on the rock. Though impressive, the mountain is not as well known as Stone Mountain in Georgia. Most people just climb to the top of Stone Mt. and back down. If you continue past the top and do a 6.4 mile loop, you’ll leave the tourists and catch three waterfalls. The elaborate staircase paralleling Stone Mt. Falls, the main falls, is as impressive as the waterfall itself.

Beyond the rock, Stone Mountain State Park is loaded, with artifacts of its moonshine past. Wilkes County is the moonshine capital of the world,” proclaims the Visitor Center brochures. “It used to be hush-hush,” Bob, a local hiker, explained, “but now they’re proud of it. Just a couple of hundred feet off the trail, you can come down to a field of stills – large steel drums – whose tops have been blown off by dynamite. The way the metal peels off and curls in beautiful swirls make me want to display it in my garden as a sculpture. The pipes, which fed the gas to cook the mash, are still visible. Rubber tubes and jerrycans lie on the ground, helter-skelter. Around several stills, you’ll see a pile of old coke bottles – the 12 ounce dark green glass – that is now considered an antique item. All these Coke bottles prove the old saying, “Whisky was for selling, not for drinking.” The workers drank Coke.

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