|Widow's Creek Falls|
Stone Mountain State Park is located in Roaring Gap, NC and is home to four waterfalls. This park is not too difficult to find thanks to signs from the major roads. Detailed directions can be found at their web site. For those coming from Hwy 421, you would want to exit onto I-77 North to Elkin. After you pass Elkin, you need to branch off to the left onto US 21. The next turn will be a left onto Traphill Rd (SR 1002), followed by a right onto John P. Frank Parkway. The Parkway will take you into the park.
To get to Widow's Creek Falls, enter the park and continue on the main road. You will pass the main parking for the Stone Mountain trail head on your left. Start to pay attention to the pull off parking on the right because you are almost there. The gravel parking area is small, but marked with a sign for the falls. There is room for about three to four cars which give you an idea of how many people actually visit this waterfall. After parking you will need to follow a short and level path for about 120 feet until you can see the Widow's Creek Falls. Actually, if you are visiting in the winter months, you can just about see the falls from the parking pad.
This waterfall comes from a small watershed, so the best times to view it are after significant rainfall. This is a very serene waterfall with outcroppings of rock all around. There are several locations by which you can view this waterfall. The closer you get, the more dangerous the conditions are. Please keep in mind that the smooth rock that you will be walking on can be slippery at times and can change without warning. Be sure to wear very good boots for traction and ankle support. I have had a few moments here where I understood how the waterfall received its name. I wouldn't recommend doing your own personal research into the matter.
This waterfall is of particular interest because of what looks to be caves in both the face of the waterfall, and in the rock wall to the left of the falls. From certain angles, the face of the waterfall looks very much like a....well, face. It is interesting to me how the water splits into two cascades which run parallel down the rocks into a very still pool of water. From here the water flows over the smooth rocky floor down a slope, into a larger pool. This waterfall has many facets to explore.
For those wanting to photograph this waterfall, you will find that exposures can be a bit on the tricky side. The rocks are bleached and very bright against the wet sections which appear a good deal darker. Your best bet on these falls would be to go on a deeply overcast day, while it is misting, or has just finished raining. Having the rocks wet will improve your chances for a good photograph. Don't be afraid to try compositions from both sides of the falls as the flow of your photograph will change significantly from one side to the next.
When you have finished your exploration of the Widow's Creek Falls, don't be too eager to pack up and head to the next stop. Be sure to cross the road and check out the stream which runs along the side of the road. It is a very typical mountain stream with rocky obstructions that cause sections of white water to appear. This stream continues for a very long distance and there are several places in which you can find some very pretty rapids. The photograph above is about a half mile from the waterfall.
I have now been to Stone Mountain several times and have seen all of the waterfalls in the park. Widow's Creek Falls is by no means the biggest, or a central attraction in the park, but I would have to say if you could only see one waterfall here, this would be it. Ironically, it is the easiest to get to, and requires the least amount of work to enjoy. Another benefit is I have rarely seen more than two or three people there at a time. In the summer months, there are likely to be dozens...even hundreds at the Stone Mountain Falls, and a good many sunning themselfs at the other two in the park. For just simple enjoyment of nature, Widow's Creek Falls is the one to visit.