Stone Mountain Trail is a 3.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Dryden, VA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from May until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
I planned to do a 10 mile wilderness hike in the Stone Mountain Wilderness by hiking the portion of the Stone Mountain Trail within the wilderness boundary. After paying the $3 day fee I hopped on the trail from the pool access and trail head parking lot of Cave Springs Campground. The 1st mile was a well constructed scenic trail to a cave and mountain overlook. There were several stone staircases and wooden footbridges. The cave which was somewhat small and obstructed by a metal barrier to prevent folks from going inside. The path to the overlook was full of stinging nettles. After snapping pics of a valley in between the tree branches at the overlook I set out to enter the wilderness. The sign said 3.2 miles to the crest of Stone Mountain. The trail was blazed with yellow and the first mile in the wilderness was moderate although there were several downed trees. The further I got up the trail the more obstacles laid in the trail. After 2 miles I had to break out the machete due to serious overgrowth. some of the fallen trees were so big they were hard to climb over. I did reach a huge rock face and took some pictures of the expansive cave/overhang at the bottom. At this point it was getting dark so I headed back down the trail to try again the next day. I brought a small pruning saw the next day and got an early start, determined to make it to the top of the mountain where there appeared to be a fire tower marked on the map. Again the going was very slow and I made it 3 miles into the wilderness where I lost the trail on a sharp turn. At this point I should have been past the switchbacks on the way up but the only trace of the trail I could find was the last yellow double blaze. Finally, with daylight fading i had to head won the mountain without achieving my goal. This was by far the worst maintained wilderness trail I had been on in my quest to hike 10 miles in 12 different Wilderness Areas as part of the Dirty Dozen Wilderness Hike Challenge. I also tried to access the wilderness via the Payne Branch Trail. Unfortunately, I could not find a place to park for the gravel road was too narrow to park on the side and the trail head had no parking. On the opposite side of the the road form the trail was private property with no trespassing signs.