Our western North Carolina Mountains are famous for their views, height and great hiking trails. But yesterday, I revisited three state parks east of Asheville in the Piedmont: Stone Mountain, Hanging Rock and Pilot Mountain. I drove 450 miles from Asheville to the three parks and back.
I planned a three-state park weekend for Carolina Mountain Club after I wrote about these parks in my new guide, Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage. We’ll be staying in cabins in Hanging Rock State Park. But as the weekend gets closer, I actually have to send out driving directions. I could have figured it out from maps, Mapquest and my prior knowledge but sometimes, it’s just easier to drive it.
As I drove from Stone Mountain to Hanging Rock State Park, I passed Pilot Mountain’s wedding-cake dome. Then the big characteristic rock of Hanging Rock became my guide. I walked to a couple of waterfalls close to the visitor center at Hanging Rock. See the photo of Window Falls above.
Each park only has two or three hikes, not all full-day hikes, but they are outstanding in their own way. Each has an iconic rock formation which towers over the Piedmont valley. So sometimes, you have to go east to see something different.