Monday, November 12, 2012

Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area

Because of my back injury, my leg muscles are getting weak. So one of my doctors suggested that I do some walking at try to get the muscles toned. One of my pals, Bob Johnson, had told me about a park near Hiddenite NC that was new to me. So I did some research from the links he sent and Carole and I drove up there on Sunday.

One reason I picked it is that the trails there are very easy on the legs. When we got to the park we saw the new facilities and read up on the trail routes from the literature that was being handed out. The park has an office and a ranger was on staff there. In addition, I later ran into an Alexander County Commissioner who was jogging the trails and he proudly gave me details about the creation and formation of the park.

The place has only been opened since Memorial Day, so it truly is new. The land was once part of a rock quarry, but the Nature Conservancy was able to buy up the little mountain and, later, hand the almost 400 acres over to Alexander County to develop as a park and recreation area. Rocky Face Mountain is a classic pluton, similar to Looking Glass Rock and Stone Mountain and any number of other such granitic domes in this part of the country. These were all once pools of magma deep beneath the surface of the Earth which, under pressure, metamorphosed into granite. When the softer earth around them eroded away, the tough granite bedrock became exposed and became, in essence, a mountain (or monadnock).

Rocky Face Mountain rises about 700 feet above the surrounding terrain. However, the trail to the summit is very gradual and easy to hike. The summit itself is long and broad, but there are many areas of exposed rock walls all over the peak. In addition to the interesting geology, the park is also home to some very rare plant communities.

It was a great place to spend part of the day. We'll go back, especially since I wasn't able to hike the entire trail system in the park.

This section of the park was once a rock quarry. In the wake of the destructive business we now have sheer cliffs that are nowadays used for rock climbing (which is allowed in the park).

Lingering Fall color.

Parts of the park are similar in many ways to Stone Mountain State Park.

View from the clifftop down to the picnic area and park office.

Trees and grass at the top of the cliff.

The forest.

Autumn hanging on.


Yucca plants.

Ye author at an overlook.

Not terribly far from the summit.

One of the sloping domes of exposed rock.

This was actually not far from the base of Rocky Face Mountain.

A partially completed millstone we saw on the way down. Reminding us that this place was a quarry for a very long time.

I'm not into rock climbing, but I reckon this would be a fun wall to scale.

The mountain as seen from the road near the entrance to the park.


Kirk G said...

They're beautiful shots. Looks like Autumn is still in force there. Sigh.

Kirk G said...

They're beautiful shots. Looks like Autumn is still in force there. Sigh.

HemlockMan said...

Most of the Fall colors were gone, but still some great spots here and there in the forest.

It is a surprisingly pretty little park. Newly opened--just a few months old (as a park).

MarkGelbart said...

Those are really nice photos.

Those plants you labeled as sedges are probably grasses, not sedges.

Grasses prefer dry habitat; sedges prefer moist habitat. Sedges have triangular stems. The plants in the photo look too skinny to be sedges.

I found an easy to understand explanation of the differences between the 2 by googling "differences between sedges and grasses."

HemlockMan said...

Thanks, Mark! I'll make the correction!