Yes, North Carolina has a Stone Mountain, too

if nature is your thing, spend a day hiking and soaking up the beauty of North Carolina's Stone Mountain State Park.

Editor’s note: Day Trippin’ is an occasional series featuring quick, summer getaways. Email editor@qcitymetro.com to submit your own review or to suggest a destination.

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If you haven’t had a chance to visit North Carolina’s beautiful state parks, a day trip to Stone Mountain State Park is the perfect place to start.

That’s right, North Carolina has a stone mountain of its own, but it’s less well known than its larger Georgia cousin. Each year, more than 400,00 hikers and sightseers visit the 600-foot granite dome in Roaring Gap, N.C.

If you like the outdoors, there is plenty to do there. The park has 16 miles of trails, 20 miles of trout waters if you like to fish and campgrounds.

My family and I recently decided to take a hike up the mountain. The 4.5-mile Stone Mountain Loop Trail is no joke. If you want to get your exercise, this trail will test your walking skills.

Before we started we packed plenty of water, a few snacks and our camera.

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During our two-hour hike, we saw nature at its best. We walked through creeks, saw wild red mushrooms and deer in the forests from a distance. But one of the best sites was the large waterfall. We stopped there to cool off and take pictures.

Other families were at the fall relaxing on the huge rocks that are big enough to sit on and enjoying the sound of the cascading stream.

I enjoyed splashing the cool mountain water on my hands and face; it was refreshing after hiking for barely an hour.

Our next challenge was to climb what seemed like hundreds of steps that lead toward the mountain’s top. We decided to race up the steps, and boy was I tired! I realized that I’m not as young as I use to be. And from that point we still had about 45 minutes to go before we would reach the top.

When we finally reached the summit – elevation 2,305 foot — the scenic view was breathtaking. Can you imagine what it feels like to climb so high?

I plopped down on the smooth stone to enjoyed the scenery. As I took in the landscape, I felt as if the world were perfect. To smell fresh air like that and see miles of mountains and treetops and to watch birds soaring — that’s God artistry at its best.

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My next challenge – a bigger mountain!

If you go: Stone Mountain is an hour’s drive north of Charlotte, up Interstate 77. Hikers can choose from two trails to the top. If you park in the lower lot, you’ll get the trail that leads to the waterfall. If you take the upper lot, the trek is a shorter distance. Admission is free.

Happy hiking!

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Photo below: The 600-foot granite dome of Stone Mountain looms above lush vegetation in Stone Mountain State Park. (Photo: Qcitymetro.com)

Photo below: Stone Mountain State Park, about an hour north or Charlotte, provides a scenic backdrop for people who like the outdoors. (Photo: Qcitymetro.com)

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