Entries For: December 2007
Stone Mountain State Park, north of Statesville, North Carolina, is known for its spectacular rock, a granite pluton that rises 700 feet out of the valley.
The rock is pock-marked with weathering pits as if a giant left footprint impressions on the rock. Though impressive, the mountain is not as well known as Stone Mountain in Georgia. Most people just climb to the top of Stone Mt. and back down. If you continue past the top and do a 6.4 mile loop, you’ll leave the tourists and catch three waterfalls. The elaborate staircase paralleling Stone Mt. Falls, the main falls, is as impressive as the waterfall itself.
Beyond the rock, Stone Mountain State Park is loaded, with artifacts of its moonshine past. Wilkes County is the moonshine capital of the world,” proclaims the Visitor Center brochures. “It used to be hush-hush,” Bob, a local hiker, explained, “but now they’re proud of it. Just a couple of hundred feet off the trail, you can come down to a field of stills – large steel drums - whose tops have been blown off by dynamite. The way the metal peels off and curls in beautiful swirls make me want to display it in my garden as a sculpture. The pipes, which fed the gas to cook the mash, are still visible. Rubber tubes and jerrycans lie on the ground, helter-skelter. Around several stills, you’ll see a pile of old coke bottles – the 12 ounce dark green glass - that is now considered an antique item. All these Coke bottles prove the old saying, “Whisky was for selling, not for drinking.” The workers drank Coke.
Pilot Mountain, along with Hanging Rock, are called "The Mountains before the Mountains" in the Sauratown Mountains.
Though the mountains are very low in absolute altitude compared with Western North Carolina, they rise so high from the valley floor that they are very impressive. Both parks are located north of Winston-Salem and south of Mt. Airy.
Pilot Mountain State Park is a "one hike park", but what a hike! The trail circumnavigates the mountain, climbing from the Visitor Center with side trails to the top. You can also drive to the top and take in the amazing views down into the valley.
The park was a private commercial park for many years. The owners built roads to attract paying customers - pedestrians paid 25 cents and motorists 50 cents in the 1940.
Where is this cabin?
Basin Creek Cove was once home to over 50 families and is now part of Doughton Park, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 238.5 – 244.7. If you take a solitary ten-mile walk (round-trip), you’ll find many artifacts but few people. You’ll cross Basin Creek over 16 times, without bridges, passing elaborate rock formations, cascades and several waterfalls. The trail leads deep in the cove and ends at Caudill Cabin, the only remaining cabin.
When I reached to the cabin, my first thought was “This family didn’t get out very much”. The cabin, a 14 ft. by 16 ft. room with two doors but no window, is propped up by columns of flat stones. It was the home of Martin Caudill who had 14 children. The cabin was restored in 2001 by the National Park Service and the descendants of the Caudill family. Two books on the mantelpiece explain the Caudill genealogy and include photographs of the cabin restoration. When I signed in, I noted that the last person visited here over three weeks ago. Look up toward the Parkway. The trail does not connect to the Blue Ridge Parkway so you need to go back the way you came. In July, 1916, a flood devastated the community and washed almost everything away. Somehow the Caudill Cabin survived.
To get another perspective on Basin Cove, look down from Basin Cove Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 244.7. To see the cabin from above, go to Wildcat Rocks, which begins at the far end of Bluff Lodge at MP 241. From the left side of the overlook, you can see the cabin down in the clearing.