Adventure Us: Fairy Stone State Park
Secluded in the forested foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains lies a beautiful piece of land concealing rare treasures: Fairy Stone State Park.
One of the first 6 original Virginia state parks to open in 1936, Fairy Stone was built through the combined efforts of the CCC and the Virginia Conservation Commission. Many of the park’s structures, including the log cabins and the bathhouse, are of original CCC construction. At almost 5000 acres, Fairy Stone is also one of the largest of Virginia’s parks. The land was donated by wealthy Roanoke entrepreneur Junius Fishburn, who in addition to helping to found and lead one of the first Roanoke banks, also founded the Roanoke Times newspaper.
Obviously, the park is best known for its legendary “fairy stones.” These are six sided crystal formations occurring in various shapes, including striking intersections such as right-angled Roman crosses or oblique St. Andrews crosses. The story is that the crystals were formed from the tears of fairies when they heard the news of Christ’s death. These unusual crystals – made of a mineral called staurolite – are still plentiful to be found in the park, although it requires exercising some powers of careful observation and patience. There is a designated fairy stone hunting area off Route 57 a couple miles east, where you can search either with guided tours or by yourself. (Ranger-guided tours are not currently being offered due to Covid precautions.) In our multiple visits, we had moderate success, with even our kids turning up some interesting crystals. Note that no digging tools are allowed, and the stones are for your personal enjoyment only – not for selling on eBay!
The park also offers an array of other outdoor adventures. There is an excellent recreational area beside beautiful Fairy Stone Lake, including a beach area, a designated swimming area with a water playground, and lots of other picnic and play options. The fishing is good, and canoes and paddle boats can be rented during the summer season. The swimming area is open year round but lifeguards are only on duty during the summer months.
Fairy Stone also offers a number of hiking trails suitable for the whole family. Across the lake from the swimming area, the Stuart’s Knob trails provide views over the lake and glimpses of several old mining caves. Other old artifacts of the area’s mining history can be seen at the park; the pulley wheels that were used to haul the iron ore out of the hills sit in front of the visitor center. The longer Little Mountain Falls trails are open to biking and horseback riding as well as hiking. In seasons with plenty of rain, the falls are a good destination for those with plenty of energy.
If you’re looking for a longer weekend adventure, check out the cabins, yurts, and campsite. If you’re looking for a fun day trip out of town, there’s lots to explore, even in the winter months!
Name: 967 Fairystone Lake Dr. Stuart, VA 24171
Time from Roanoke: 1 – 1.5 hours
Activity Options: Hiking, swimming, fishing, picnicking, treasure hunting
Nearby Food: Options in Martinsville such as The Wild Magnolia or Rania’s Restaurant; options in Floyd such as Pine Tavern Restaurant, Dogtown Roadhouse, or Bootleg BBQ
Nearby Attractions: Philpott Reservoir; Martinsville attractions such as the Museum of Natural History, Piedmont Art Museum, Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum; Floyd attractions such as the Floyd Country Store; Ferrum attractions such as the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum
More Adventure Us
- Adventure Us: Roanoke area day trips, Part I
- Adventure Us: Roanoke’s Ice Cream Adventures
- Adventure Us: Grayson Highlands State Park
- Adventure Us: Snowflex
- Adventure Us: Addy Grace Playground
- Adventure Us: Mill Mountain Zoo
- Adventure Us: Little Beaver State Park, Beckley, WV
- Adventure Us: Science Museum of Western Virginia