For a while now, ever since we moved into our new house, Evan and I had been talking about hiking a stretch of the Standing Stone Trail (SST) on Stone Mountain, the ridge we look at every day from our porch. The section of trail we’d been discussing starts at a hawk watch just off the road and runs along the ridgetop before descending into Greenwood Furnace State Park. Greenwood is the northern terminus for the 70-ish-mile (some sources say 76 miles, but the sign at the trailhead said 68) SST, which runs southward to Cowans Gap State Park.
The section we ended up hiking was about 9 miles, which took us about 5 hours on the leaf-covered, rocky ridgetop. Some friends were in from out of town, and they joined us for the hike on a beautiful (though windy) fall day this past weekend. We left a vehicle at the end of the trail at Greenwood Furnace, then drove to the top of the mountain to begin our walk through the woods.
While the western side and top of the ridge were strewn with rocky outcroppings, the eastern side was much more rock-free, instead filled with grasses, ferns, and other underbrush. It was also sheltered from the wind, a welcome reprieve from the strong gusts that seemed to blow constantly throughout the day on the other side of the mountain. The trail wound its way back and forth along the ridge, sometimes traversing the western side, sometimes the eastern, and sometimes right on top, so we experienced a variety of different conditions and landscapes.
Despite the fact that the hike was a little longer than anticipated in both duration and mileage, we all had a great time. Now we need to start conquering other parts of the SST, and maybe a thru-hike sometime in the near future.