Fairy Stone State Park
For my 34th Birthday last March, Ryan Somma and I took the two dogs to Fairy Stone State Park. We stayed in a cozy lake-side cabin for two nights, attending the planting of a blight resistant American Chestnut tree and managed to squeeze in three separate hikes during our short stay.
The cabins at Fairystone are dog-friendly, are well furnished, have full kitchens and most importantly, include a fireplace. We stayed in Cabin 4, near the lake. Mid March is splendid time to be at Fairy Stone State Park. During the day, it is a comfortable temperature for outings and at night it is cold enough to really appreciate that aforementioned fireplace. Since it was the middle of the week, only a handful of the other cabins were occupied. Ryan and I practically had the whole park to ourselves! Did we pay a premium for that seclusion? No! We got off-season rates!
And FYI- Don’t worry about late check in. We arrived late on a Tuesday night. The park rangers left everything we needed to get situated at the park office.
Hike #1 – Little Mountain Falls Trail
Wednesday March 18th, we woke up at 5:30 AM to squeeze in a hike before the American Chestnut Planting at Philpott Lake. Starting at the Lakeshore Trail, we hiked 0.25 miles on Turkey Ridge to the Orange-Blazed Little Mountain Falls Trail. That made a 3.40 mile loop back to Turkey Ridge and we had another 0.33 miles back to the car. The Fairy Stone State Park Stuart’s Knob and Little Mountain Trail Systems Guide had the Little Mountain Falls Trail classified as “Strenuous”. It wasn’t. We found it to be quite flat and easy.
But beautiful! The trail took us by the Little Mountain Falls. We were accompanied by the morning mist which opened up just as we approached the first of two scenic overlooks.
After our Little Mountain Falls hike, we showered and headed out to the American Chestnut Planting at Philpott Lake. When we returned, I partook in another birthday tradition. The birthday nap. It was wonderful.
Hike #2 – Stuart’s Knob Trail System
After the birthday nap, we headed out again! This time we went across the lake to the Stuart Knob Trail System. This was more like hiking! The hills were steeper than the “strenuous” trail and our heart rated definitely increased.
There are a number of trails to choose from. We hiked the Iron Mine Trail to check out the historic mining sites. Then we took the Upper Stuart’s Knob and Lower Stuart’s Knob Trails to the top to take in a view of Bull Mountain. Bull Mountain was beautiful– but more stunning was the view of Fairystone Lake on the way up.
Hike #3 – Fairy Stone Wildlife Management Farm
At the top of Stuart’s Knob, we read a sign advertising more hiking at the Fairy Stone Wildlife Management Farm. We still had some daylight left, so we stopped and walked on the white and red nature trails. It’s quite beautiful and very diverse! It took us through marshlands full of water fowl and spring peepers and then we traveled through a forest where kind souls had labeled the different species of tree (I got to learn Autumn Olive and Sourwood!). Finally as darkness set in (a little too quickly for my comfort), we ran across a surprise field of daffodils.
Although our cabin log had numerous reports of a three-legged squirrel, we did not get to see that little guy. But we did get to see a Red Eft on the Little Mountain Falls Trail. We got to see both bats and a heron at dusk. Finally, we were serenaded quite loudly by Spring Peepers.
The park is known for its “fairystones”, its cross shaped rocks. Supposedly they were created when local fairies heard about Jesus’ death. All the fairies were so sad, they started to cry and all their tears formed little cross rocks. Ryan and I were both under the impression that all the stones had already been scavenged away by tourists, so we didn’t bother to go “Fairystone Hunting”. It wasn’t until we read the cabin log that we discovered we were the only morons who did not find a fairystone. Luckily all the local stores just so happen to sell fairystones for the unlucky, the lazy, or in our case, the oblivious.
Fairystones (Photo by pcopros)
Ryan and I may not have found any fairystones, but we did spot what I contend is a more unique oddity. We found this tree at the Fairystone Wildlife Management Farm. There are thousands and thousands of Fairystones in the area, but I venture to bet there are very few trees like this period.
Fairystone, Destination For Romance
With the beautiful scenery, all the available activities and that captivating fireplace, I would definitely give Fairy Stone State Park a high recommendation, particularly to couples looking for a getaway. If you doubt how romantic the park could be, just flip through one of the cabin logs. In our cabin alone, there were a number of couples who came to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, two sets of first time parents-to-be out for one last offspring-free adventure and there were at least three couples who got engaged during their stay!
|Fairystone State Park
Directions from Roanoke, Virginia
Take Route 581 to Route 220 South
Take Route 57 West
Turn on Fairystone Lake Drive (Route 346 North)