Friday, October 21, 2016

Hutchinson Homestead at Stone Mountain State Park – Great History Lesson

Hutchinson Homestead at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena
When visiting Stone Mountain State Park, staff members recommended that we hike by the Hutchinson homestead while on the Stone Mountain loop trail. Stone Mountain State Park is located in Wilkes and Alleghany counties in North Carolina near Elkin.

Homestead along the loop trail at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena
We parked in the lower trailhead parking lot and began hiking the loop trail from that point. We decided to take the split on the left side and hiked part of the way on a road that leads to the homestead. Those who have mobility limitations may drive up that road and park very close to the homestead. You can see the edge of the parking just to the left and behind the cabin photo at the top of this article.

See old farmhouse & barn & farm machinery in North Carolina © Katrena
The homestead includes quite a few buildings that have been well-maintained. Several people were visiting the area when we arrived. One group with several dogs mentioned that they had met a park ranger whose family had owned the homestead. He had told them all sorts of stories of visiting his grandparents and memories of activities his family enjoyed. He was not there on the day we visited, but what a wonderful opportunity that would be!

Stone Mountain State Park Hiking Trail in NC © Katrena
Signs at the buildings include information about how the building and farm machinery were used. Just beyond the buildings is a small trail leading to a field with a tree and a few benches. From that area you can see the large stone face that heralds Stone Mountain's name. A plaque designating the area as a national landmark in 1975 is in the field closer to the rock beyond the homestead.

View of Stone Mountain from Hutchinson Homestead © Katrena
The loop trail continues on from the trail if you keep walking straight back or you can cross a wooded bridge to the right of some of the buildings. When we visited the park, temperatures were in the high 90s, so we did not spend a lot of time in the sun, but I tried to capture a few pictures to share with all of you.

Scenic Hiking Trails in North Carolina
I would love to visit the park again some time when the park ranger whose family owned the land is there to share his stories. The homestead has been well-preserved and the entire park is well-maintained.

Old Privy or Outhouse at Hutchinson Homestead at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena
Additional articles by Katrena

Homestead at Hiking Trail at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena
Thank you for visiting my Travel NC With Kids blog. Have you visited the Hutchinson homestead at Stone Mountain State Park? If so, what did you especially like?
Fun Family Activities in Wilkes County and Alleghany County in NC © Katrena

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Stone Mountain Loop Trail at Stone Mountain State Park in NC

Stone Mountain Loop Trail at Stone Mountain State Park in NC © Katrena
The Stone Mountain Loop Trail is located at Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina (not to be confused with Stone Mountain in Georgia). My family decided to only hike along the back side of the loop to the waterfall and back because temperatures were in the high 90s on the day we visited.

Stone Mountain Loop Trail © Katrena
We traveled from the Welcome Center to the lower trailhead parking lot where the trail starts. There is a sign for the trail just past the restrooms, so that was helpful, particularly since this was the first time we visited the park. The loop trail is identified by orange circles posted along the way as well.

Road Leading to Homestead for Those with Mobility Issues © Katrena
According to the Stone Mountain State Park web site, the entire loop is 4.5 miles. The trail has a natural surface and is considered strenuous. There are quite a few steps near the waterfall going around to the front. If you are hiking the whole loop, it might be easier to hike around the front and come down the steps to the waterfall.


Trail Just Past Homestead at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena
We wanted to walk by the Hutchinson Homestead, and it looks like there is more than one way to get there. We ended up walking along a road for part of the way. I noticed there was a parking area right by the homestead, so people who have mobility issues can drive very near that area and park, but the parking over there is very limited. It looked like there might be room for about two or three cars.

Stone Mountain in North Carolina © Katrena
Just past the homestead is a beautiful view of Stone Mountain. When we visited, some people were climbing the stone face. Apparently, this park is known for their opportunities for rock climbing. Those who wish to do that must register with the park. Stone Mountain is a registered national landmark, and you can see the plaque in my photo above.

Loop Trail at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena
The trail is shaded and there are quite a few scenic areas where a stream meanders across the trail. Water levels were really low, so my kids enjoyed walking across the water on rocks, but there were bridges over the water too.

Fence at Homestead at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena
The trail is maintained well. I think many people who travel to state parks are careful not to litter, but I also realize that keeping the trails clean and free of trash and limbs, etc. is quite a job, and I appreciate all the extra efforts the staff members take to maintain such long trails.

Stone Mountain Loop Trail at NC State Park © Katrena
The trail is wide and a person with some mobility issues may be able to navigate the trail, but there are a few steps along that back portion of the loop to get to the waterfall. I enjoyed listening to the sound of the water as we hiked. It was quite peaceful. We also saw butterflies almost everywhere we looked. Those who enjoy nature photography will definitely want to bring a camera.

Beautiful Hiking Trail in NC - This is looking back from the bridle trail © Katrena
At one point, the loop trail splits. If you go to the right, you'll see Middle Falls and Lower Falls. We weren't sure what we were looking for, so we hiked and hiked down that way. After crossing one section of the stream, we realized we were on a bridle trail, so we had a picnic lunch, watched the butterflies dance, and then headed back to the split.

Steps at Stone Mountain Loop Trail on Back Side © Katrena
If you particularly want to see the big waterfall and don't have much extra time, stay to the left where the trail splits. Before long, you'll reach several sections of stairs. My kids weren't too excited about the hiking trip with such hot temperatures, but we persevered and made it to the waterfall. The trail was shaded for almost the entire way on the back part of the loop, which really helped in such hot temperatures.

Stone Mountain Falls in NC © Katrena
The waterfall is tall. Water levels were low when we visited, but it was still beautiful, and my kids decided the hike was worth it to see the waterfall. Of course, a couple of people had dogs on leashes in that area; dogs tend to bring out the happy in my kids!

Dog Friendly Hiking Trail at Stone Mountain State Park in NC © Katrena
I am hoping to return to Stone Mountain State Park and enjoy the entire loop in cooler weather. There are quite a few trails at the park, including one waterfall very close to a parking area that we didn't have the opportunity to see.

Steps Coming from the front side of the loop down to the Stone Mountain Falls © Katrena
I have tried to include a variety of pictures showcasing how the trail looks, but my pictures don't do the trail justice. To enjoy the fresh air, smell the motley collection of wildflowers, and hear the meandering water of the stream add a depth to the view that I cannot capture with the lens of a camera!

Beauty of Nature on Stone Mountain Loop Trail in NC © Katrena
Additional articles by Katrena

Free Hiking Trail at Stone Mountain © Katrena
Thanks so much for visiting my Travel NC With Kids blog. Visit the official Stone Mountain State Park web site for hours, camping information, information about their bridle trails and fishing, and much more.
View looking back the the homestead from Stone Mountain Loop Trail © Katrena
Have you hiked this trail at Stone Mountain State Park? If so, what were your favorite parts?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stone Mountain State Park in NC Offers Nostalgic Exhibits in Welcome Center

Old Pictures and Antiques at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena
My family has visited quite a few state parks throughout North Carolina. Each one has a unique, special feel when you walk into the room. We typically visit the Welcome Center first when going to a state park for the first time.

Beeswax Candles and Other Household Items at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena
The Welcome Center at Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina (not to be confused with the one in Georgia) offered quite a few interesting displays. Visitors get a glimpse of life in simpler times, a time when people were quite innovative by creating things they needed and wanted to make life easier.

Moonshine Still at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena
A big black bear greeted us front and center as soon as we entered the front door. There are a lot of steps to enter through the front, but the building does have a ramp so folks can enter through the back without navigating all of those steps! If you have ever wondered what a moonshine still looks like, you'll find one in the lobby. Each of the exhibits offers educational information about the items.

Musical Instruments at Stone Mountain State Park © Katrena 
I come from a musical family, so I found the musical instruments on display to be particularly interesting. I bet quite a few fun times were enjoyed by families years ago as they made their own music together. I would have loved to have heard my grandma play that banjo!

Loom and Handmade Quilt at Stone Mountain State Park in NC © Katrena
A large loom and hanging quilt made the side room look rustic and homey. My kids particularly liked the stages of moths and butterflies display. When we went hiking, it was even better to see the beautiful insects fluttering around the trail and near the creek!

Farm Equipment and Painting of Stone Mountain in North Carolina © Katrena
There is a beautiful painting of Stone Mountain in the Welcome Center. It gives visitors an idea of the spectacular view that awaits those who wish to hike the trail. There is handicap parking near the area where you can see the large stone, so even those with mobility issues may wish to walk to see the old homestead and amazing mountain view. Folks can catch a glimpse of the stone from the window of the Welcome Center.

Cooking Items at Stone Mountain State Park Welcome Center © Katrena
I recognized quite a few of the items on display because my grandparents lived on a farm in southwestern Virginia. Many of those items brought back memories of visiting them.

Stages of Moths and Butterflies at Stone Mountain State Park in NC © Katrena
We had the opportunity to speak with several people who work at the park; they gave tips for which trails would be best for our hiking abilities and time we had for the visit. The Welcome Center also had restrooms.

Thanks so much for visiting my Travel NC With Kids blog! Have you been to Stone Mountain in North Carolina? If so, what are some of your favorite spots?

Farm Tools at Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina © Katrena
For more information, maps, hours, etc., visit the Stone Mountain State Park official web page.

Additional articles by Katrena

Sunday, July 31, 2016

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival at High Rock Lake

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
On July 30, 2016 the Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival at High Rock Lake offered plenty of entertainment beneath the graceful white wings of egrets in the sky and the methodical ripple of waves below.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
This was the third annual Dragon Boat Festival to support Rowan County's Chamber of Commerce with money going to help the county's small business programs and services.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
If you have never heard of dragon boat racing, you are not alone. I only learned of the sport a couple of years ago when my brother joined a team. However, dragon boat racing began about 2,000 years ago in China.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Each team at the festival included twenty people. The dragon boats were the long variety and were wide enough to fit two paddlers side-by-side.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
One team member sits at the bow facing the stern and all teammates. That person taps a steady drum beat to help those who are paddling work together in a fluid motion. The drummer has to have a bit of faith in the steersperson because the drummer rides backwards.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
At the stern stands someone who steers the boat with a 10-foot oar. A few teams who have been racing for a while provide their own person to steer, but most teams rely on having an experienced steersperson provided by High Five, who also provided the boats, oars, life vests, and instructions for novice teams.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Although we arrived around lunch time, we heard they had a nice start to the festival with the rescue squad boat spraying water out in the lake while the national anthem played.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
We have had a hot summer in these parts, but the morning temperatures were kept somewhat at bay by clouds. The afternoon races heralded full sun without a hint of giving up from the teams. The waves were a bit rougher in the afternoon as more people were out boating on the lake.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Three teams faced off for each round until the final race in which four teams competed. Many of the races were extremely close...within inches of each other at the finish line.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Teams carefully loaded several folks on the boat at a time and then eased the boat a bit farther into the water until the whole group was ready to shove off and head to the starting line. They were quite organized to get so many people in and out of the boats quickly for each race.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Many of the teams were people who work together and who knew one another, so this race gave participants a chance to go beyond the comfort zone with friends and to enjoy a memorable summer day together.
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena


2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Most who came were not experts at dragon boat racing; they were librarians, cancer survivors, seniors, co-workers, friends, neighbors. Overall it was a pretty friendly competition.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Some teams decided to wear matching shirts, and one team sported hats that looked like bright red hair on top.


2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
A few drummers wore wild and crazy outfits to add more festivity to the occasion and perhaps win a prize.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
The races tended to be quite close. I would say times that had to go to 0.01 second to determine rank were pretty darn close!

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Even teams who had very little or no experience really did not take very long to work together and become pretty competitive. I didn't see anyone on the boat teams going overboard, but a few spectators took a dip in the lake.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Quite a few vendors were at the event, offering a wide range of foods, drinks, and frozen options. We didn't have to walk to or from the parking area - we just hopped on the trolley and enjoyed the ride. Extra credit goes to the Chick-fil-A cow - the afternoon was really hot out there without wearing a suit!

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Visit this Salisbury Post article for a list of the winners for the 2016 Dragon Boat Festival. The Chamber offered prizes for several different categories and also offered a raffle with several different prizes. The Rowan Chamber of Commerce has a Facebook page that you might also want to visit for more about the festival.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Additional articles by Katrena
2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena
Thanks for visiting my Travel NC With Kids blog - I hope you'll check out my other articles featuring fun family activities all over North Carolina.

2016 Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival ©Photo by Katrena