Stone Mtn., Grayson Highlands ranked among nations best

Posted on Apr 13, 2015 | 0 comments

Stone Mtn., Grayson Highlands ranked among nations best



Alan Bulluck | Jefferson PostA dog takes in the cool air and scenery at nearby Grayson Highlands State Park.

Alan Bulluck | Jefferson PostA dog takes in the cool air and scenery at nearby Grayson Highlands State Park.
Two nearby state parks, Stone Mountain (Roaring Gap, N.C.) and Grayson Highlands (Mouth of Wilson, Va.), are among two of the 20 nominees for Best State Park.
Hiking enthusiasts and park supporters from across the region have the opportunity to compete on the national level in the USA Today sponsored competition. According to the organization’s website: “the earliest state parks in the United States date back to the mid 1800s, and today, the 50 states collectively manage well over 6,000 state park units that draw in over 700 million annual visitors. With so many parks, it was a tough job narrowing it down to our 20 nominees for Best State Park, but that’s just what our panel of U.S. travel experts were tasked to do.”
Voting began March 1 and while both parks are among the list of candidates, they’re in need of votes.
Current top five leaders include Letchworth State Park in New York, Watkins Glen State Park in New York, Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park in Michigan, Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee and Custer State Park in South Dakota.
Stone Mountain State Park is currently ranked 12 and Grayson Highlands State Park is ranked 20.
The website describes Stone Mountain as a mountain that is “named after the 600-foot-tall granite dome” and “protects 14,000 acres of natural beauty bounded by the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Thurmond Chatham Game Lands.”
The draw for visitors to the area are the more than 18 miles of hiking trails that traverse the park, and 20 miles of designated trout waters that attract fly-fishing enthusiasts. What sets it apart from nearby state parks is the fact that Stone Mountain offers some of the state’s best rock climbing.
Stone Mountain has a historical element as well, with the Hutchinson Homestead carefully preserved through the generations. Hikers have the opportunity to walk on trails marked easy to strenuous, that lead to mountain peaks or beautiful waterfalls.
Grayson Highlands lies along the Appalachian Trail and is home to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, known as one of the nation’s top hiking destinations.
While exploring the park’s 4,522 acres, hikers can be expected to encounter wild ponies, including newborn colts in late spring.
Voting is now underway and runs through noon on March 30 at Anyone 18 and over is eligible to vote. Voters are limited to one vote per day for the remainder of the contest. The winners will be announced as soon as voting ends.
Karen Holbrook can be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.
Alan Bulluck contributed to this report.



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