141 – Lower Falls at Stone Mountain

Accessibility – Moderate

Height – 20′

Distance – 2.8.30 Miles (Out and Back)

Beauty – 7

Photo rating – 6

Solitude – 7

GPS Info: LAT 36.3806 LONG -81.0407

Last updated: 06/01/2016

Lower Falls on Big Sandy Creek is downstream of Stone Mountain Falls and Middle Falls. This furthest waterfall from the intersection with the Stone Mountain Loop Trail will add about two miles to your hike, one mile out and back. The easiest and shortest way to get to Lower Falls is to hike to Stone Mountain Falls and bear right when the staircase splits near the base. This will keep you on the Stone Mountain Loop Trail. The closest trailhead is the Upper Parking Area on the left past the visitors center. If you’re doing the summit and all the falls you can park at either access. There are facilities at the Upper and Lower trailheads and the trail system is well marked. To get to the falls from the Upper Parking Area follow the sign indicating Stone Mountain Falls. The trail splits when it reaches the Stone Mountain Loop Trail. Look for the stone chimney. For the sake of getting to the waterfall, bear left at the loop trail. If you want to make this a loop hike, after seeing Middle and Lower Falls, you continue on the loop trail to the summit but this is the more difficult route to the summit.

Trail will head generally downhill for a short time before a short set of steps leads you onto an exposed section of rock at the top of Stone Mountain Falls. The edge of the rock is fenced off but the way down follows along the fence to more steps. A lot more steps, 300+ steps. Near the bottom of the stairs the staircase splits. The loop trail bears to the right while the base of Stone Mountain Falls is to the left. If you’re coming from the base of Stone Mountain Falls, bear to the left and follow the steps down to the trail. The connector trail to Middle and Lower Falls is on the left about 0.50 of a mile from the base of Stone Mountain Falls. It is pretty obvious as it follows Big Sandy Creek.

The trail to Middle and Lower Falls comes in from the left about half a mile from Stone Mountain falls. The route is very pretty and along the way there is a rocky outcropping that requires additional exploration as well as a large overhanging boulder that my daughter said looks like a frog! This trail goes for 0.5 of a mile before splitting again. It is signed with an arrow pointing to the right for Middle Falls. Continue straight and cross the creek. The trail will ascend briefly before going into a long decline back to creek level. The trail will swing to the left before approaching a gate that blocks horse access. There is a longer creek crossing to get onto the horse trail on the far side (red triangle blaze). Less than 0.2 of a mile from the crossing a sign will indicate the end of the waterfall trail. There are several trails down to the base of the falls. Once you scramble to the side of the creek, rock hop across to the large flat area below the falls. There is a great swimming hole in front and even on Memorial Day it wasn’t crowded. You can shoot from anywhere on the bank and toward the right side. The hike is kid friendly but the steps can be a bit of a tester after a long day.

Lower Falls – May 2016
Lower Falls in a better light – May 2016
Lower Falls from the right bank – May 2016