Friday, June 30, 2017

New River State Park, Laurel Springs, NC

Date of Stay:  Sunday June 18 – Friday June 30, 2017 (12 nights)

Rate:  $21/night during week; $25/night weekends and holidays (more for FHU)

Website:  New River State Park (NC) US Hwy 221 Access
   358 New River State Park Road (use gps 36.467680, 81.340350)
   Laurel Springs,NC 28644

Description:  Located in the northwest corner of NC near the quaint town of West Jefferson, this State Park is a great place to float down the New River.  The area has many Christmas tree farms with fir trees forming patches on the hillsides.  The campground is only 20 sites; half are FHU(50A) while the other half are electric(50A) only.  We stayed in site 11 which is electric only.  We filled our fresh tank as we came in and took showers in the clean bath house and did just fine.  The roads are paved while the campsites are level gravel.  Strange thing about the site design though is that about half of them have the patio on the driver side of the rv.  The sewer and utility poles are not all that conveniently set up either.  The cg is about a mile up the hill from the New River.  Nice Visitor Center shows the importance of a good riparian area beside the river.

Trash and Recycle:  Dumpster located at the dump station and recycle bins for aluminum, glass, and plastic located at the bath house.

Activities:  I enjoyed a hike in the woods down to the river and back several times.  We enjoyed relaxing at the rear of our site and a few trips into West Jefferson (Honey Hole and Ashe County Cheese).  It is a vibrant small town with several blocks of quaint shops in the downtown area.  Saturday there is a nice Farmer’s Market open there too.  We checked out the VC where we learned that the New River is believed to be the second oldest river on Earth (oldest is the Nile).  It was named the New River because Peter Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson’s father) surveyed the area in the 1740’s and the river didn’t have a name so he just wrote New River beside the meandering waterway.  The VC offers a canoe float on Sundays for a small fee so we signed up for it.  It was about 4.5 miles long and took about two hours.  Only thing is, we are used to kayaks which are a lot more stable than canoes.  We started out fine but came upon a rapids that had a branch hanging over it.  The branch turned us sideways and the current took care of the rest!  We capsized into the cold mountain water!  Our knees and rear ends scraped the rocks on the bottom of the river and we had a hard time standing up in the current.  Once we got our wits together, the Ranger helped us get to shallower water and dumped the water out of the canoe so that we could get back in and continue on our float.  That was pretty much the end of my small camera.  I’m glad that our key fob still worked after getting wet!  But it was a memorable trip indeed!

On site 11  On site 11
On site 11

New River SP Visitor Center  Riparian display
The VC emphasizes the importance of a good riparian natural area

New River canoe launch  Launching from the handicap launch
Canoe launch in the park

Hickory Trail  Nicely marked walk in the woods  River Run Trail
Hickory Trail is a nice walk in the woods…
River Run Trail  River Run Trail  Switchback in steep part of trail
…and so is River Run Trail

Group launch  Canoe the New
Ready for launch!                                      Canoe the New!
Beautiful day!  Canoe the New
So peaceful in the last picture while I was dry!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap, NC

Date of Stay:  Thursday June 8 – Sunday June18, 2017 (10 nights)

Rate:  $23/ night during week; $27/night weekends and holidays

Website: Stone Mountain State Park (NC)
   3042 Frank Parkway
   Roaring Gap, NC 28668

Description:  (Follow directions on the website due to steep and curvy roads on Oklahoma Road.) Located in the northwest corner of NC about an hour from Winston Salem, this State Park has several miles of great hiking and a Parkway road that has a creek running along beside it.  The campground even has a creek running through the middle of it.  It also has paved roads throughout. Loop A is the old part of the cg with small gravel sites and no hookups. Loop C has paved sites but no hookups.  Loop A is where we stayed (sites 76 and 67) and it has level, paved sites with W/E 50A.  Absolutely NO Verizon reception, however, so no phone or internet!  Other than that, it’s a great place.

Trash and Recycle:  Dumpsters located near the dump station as you exit the cg.  Currently no recycle in the cg, but I did find some bins at the trail head parking lots that take aluminum cans.

Activities:  I enjoyed several hikes; one to Stone Mountain Falls, another to the Summit of Stone Mountain, and yet another to Wolf Rock/Cedar Rock.  The views were beautiful!  We rode along the parkway and stopped at a few pull offs along the creek.  Gin was able to walk to Widow’s Creek Falls and also spent a bit of time at the Hutchinson Homestead (log home and barns built in the 1850’s) which is at the base of the huge granite dome of Stone Mountain.  We saw at least one deer per day here.  We drove over to Mount Airy about an hour away one day to eat at Snappy Lunch.  It is Andy Griffiths’ home town and the downtown area is all about nostalgia.

Site 76  On site 76
On site 76
View from the patio of site 76  Big Sandy Creek runs through the cg
View from the patio of 76                           Big Sandy Creek in the cg
On site 67  On site 67
On site 67

Display at the VC  Display at the VC
P1050178 P1050176 P1050177
Wilkes County has a history of moonshining  Gin rubs bear's nose
Displays at the Visitor Center

Going down  Hike to Stone Mountain FallsGoing up
Lots of steps (300 or more) on the way to Stone Mountain Falls
From the top of Stone Mountain Falls  Stone Mountain Falls  Stone Mountain Falls
From the top                         People enjoy the cool pool at the base of the 200 foot waterfall

View from one of the outcroppings  Summit is in sight!
Views on the way to the summit
Lots of switchbacks because it's steep  Stone Mountain Summit 2305 feet
Switchbacks at the steep parts                     Summit at 2305 ft elevation
Beautiful views!!  Views!
Not alone at the summit…                             Beautiful views!
Views!  View from my quiet lunch rock
Views!!                                              View from my lunch rock!!

Wolf Rock Trail  View from Wolf Rock
Wolf Rock Trail leads to another nice view
View from Cedar Rock  Cedar Rock Trail
Cedar Rock has nice views and the trail

Gin at the homestead  Original log house from 1855
Blacksmith shop and corn crib  Hutchinson Homestead at the base of the mountain
Hutchinson Homestead at the base of Stone Mountain
Nice view of Stone Mountain from a bench at the barn  View of Stone Mountain near Hutchinson Homestead
Gin enjoys the views… we actually saw three people rappelling down the rock face

Gin along the creek beside the Pkwy  Garden Creek Baptist Church on Frank Pkwy
Gin creek side along the parkway            Garden Creek Baptist Church on the pkwy

Widow's Creek Falls  Widow's Creek Falls  Gin at Widow's Creek Falls
Widow’s Creek Falls