When you visit Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina there are a number of waterfalls you can hike to. Stone Mountain Falls is the most famous waterfall at an estimated 200 feet tall. The “waterfalls” at stone mountain are not really waterfalls, more like waterslides where water runs down a steep slope of granite rather than actually falling over a cliff or a drop off. Widow’s Creek Falls is located farthest from the campground and visitor center of any waterfall in the park.
In order to get to Widow’s Creek Falls you will need to drive about three miles from the Stone Mountain campground or the visitor center toward the west entrance of the park. At the trailhead you will find a small gravel parking area that spans both side of the road. If you get to the backcountry permit parking area you have gone just a little bit too far. You’ll need to turn around and head back toward the campground about a quarter mile. There is a long, strenuous Widow’s Creek Trail that goes up to the backcountry camping sites and a shorter trail that just goes to the falls. This article is for the trail that goes to the falls.
When you get to the correct parking area you’ll hop out of your car and have about a quarter mile or less to hike to the falls. The waterfall if you can call it that is actually quite long but it is really more of a creek with a steep granite bed over which the water flows. The hike up to the base of the waterfall is an easy hike on a dirt and gravel surface. When you get up to the waterfall there will be a shallow pool of water at the base of the falls to wade in. Behind the pool of water, will be a rock surface that is slick enough and gentle enough to slide down into the pool right in front of you. Above the rock water slide is a another pool that a steeper section of the waterfall flows into.
It is a nice scenic area to sit and relax and let the kids play in the water so long as they are extremely careful and have proper supervision while playing in the water, and sliding down the rock waterslide. Because the rock is granite and virtually all of the rock surface around the waterfall has water running down it during some portion of the year, the slightest bit of water on any of the rock surfaces here will make the surface slippery enough to fall on.
If you wade through the water to the far side of the falls you will find a fairly well-worn trail that continues up along Widow’s Creek. The trail is a fairly steep dirt trail and follows the path of the creek for a quarter to a half mile. Along the trail there are a number of places where it is possible to walk down to the waters edge. In some spots the creek is relatively flat and has an edge of sand to stand on. In other places, the granite creek bed is steep and offers ample opportunity to slip, fall and incur what would be severe bodily damage.
If you continue up the trail a while longer it will empty out into a nice flat section of the creek. Here it is possible to wade in the creek and take in some spectacular scenery. Even on busy weekends at Stone Mountain State Park hardly anyone bothers to venture up this far. If you want to find a place at Stone Mountain State Park that offers solitude and tranquility, this is one area you will find it without having to walk terribly far off the beaten path. The hike back down to the main falls and the parking lot follows the same path as the way up. It is steep and slippery in some spots so be extra careful when walking back down and walk slowly!
Widow’s Falls at Stone Mountain State Park is an excellent place to go to enjoy a small waterfall, slide down a natural stone waterslide and relax. At times the pools below the lower portion of the falls may become rather crowded on weekends and holidays. If you are sure-footed and desire a little more peace and quiet then carefully hike up the trail on the right side of the falls (when looking up at the falls) and follow it until it empties out in the creek bed.