Fairy Stone State Park, the largest of Virginia's six original state parks, is home to its namesake "fairy stones." These rare mineral crosses and the park's scenic beauty, rich history and ample recreational opportunities make it a local and regional favorite. The 4,639 acres that make up the park were donated by Junius B. Fishburn, former owner of the Roanoke Times, in 1933. The Civilian Conservation Corps originally built the park, its lake and many structures still in use there. The Legend of the Fairy Stone: Many hundreds of years before Chief Powhatans reign, fairies were dancing around a spring of water, playing with naiads and wood nymphs, when an elfin messenger arrived from a city far away. He brought news of the death of Christ. When these creatures of the forest heard the story of the crucifixion, they wept. As their tears fell upon the earth, they crystallized to form beautiful crosses. For many years people held these little crosses in superstitious awe, firm in the belief that they protected the wearer against witchcraft, sickness, accidents and disaster. Fairy stones are staurolite, a combination of silica, iron and aluminum. Staurolite crystallizes at 60 or 90 degree angles, hence the stone's cross-like structure. Found only in rocks once subjected to great heat and pressure, the mineral was formed long, long ago, during the rise of the Appalachian Mountains. The stones are most commonly shaped like St. Andrews cross, an "X," but "T" shaped Roman crosses and square Maltese crosses are the most sought-after. The rare staurolite stones are found elsewhere but not in such abundance as at Fairy Stone State Park.
Overall, I enjoyed the trail. However, while on it I was wondering why it was labeled hard, there wasn't too many inclines. As we were approaching the waterfall it was a moderately steep down hill slope. It seems as though if we started going to the left side of the loop from the trail head we would have done more climbing. Wish we would have known that from the beginning! It would be worth going back again and trying the trail counterclockwise!
This trail exceeded my expectations. There are several switchbacks and some nice elevation change for a short loop. You pass a couple old mine entrances (one you need to take a short spur to get to). The scenery is pretty, especially with some fall color remaining in the trees. There is also a very nice view looking down over the lake and the beach area. You can extend the hike by including the trail to Stuart's Knob, and there is plenty of parking at the trailhead.
Amazing Park! Camped for a weekend. Campground was small and private. Fished, swam in beached area with a "Lilly pad" filled with kid friendly floats anchored to beach. Trails were beautiful with water. Overall great experience and many plans to return.
I visited in September. The waterfall was barely a trickle, but I can see how it would be a nice sight when the creek is running higher. The trail is about half up, then half down. Demanding in a few sections, but okay otherwise. A few creek crossings may be muddy. There are some sections that are steep, but it's not too bad. Good views at the top. This trail connects with several others in the park.
A great park for family camping. The lake is a great place to swim and play in the summer. Campsites are well maintained and in close proximity to a bath house. The bath house was clean and well lit.
Campsites have a picnic table, fire ring with grate, and flat tent pad. There are RV spots with all the appropriate hook ups as well.