The Stony Mountain circuit is one of the more secluded loops in the SNP. Overshadowed by the more popular Old Rag Mountain and White Oak Canyon hikes just to the north. With great views of the valley from Stony Mountain, and a nice swimming hole on the Rose River, this is one hike worth checking out.
From the parking area head up the yellow blazed Rose River Fire Road passing through a closed gate. Don't be confused by the initial red blazes on the trees, these designate the SNP boundary. Hike up the fire road with Rose River on your right and in 0.5 miles look for a small unmarked trail on your right that leads down to the river and great swimming hole in the summer. In 0.6 miles cross a steel bridge that spans Dark Hollow Creek. Continue up the fire road and pass an unmarked trail on your right.
The fire road now turns left and ascends Stony Mountain. At the first switchback pass the Upper Dark Hollow Trail on your left, this will be your return route. Continue on the fire road and in 100 yards, 30 yards off the trail on the right, there is an old cemetery. The cemetery is no longer maintained. It has 30+ graves with the most recent dating to the 1920's, just prior to when the SNP was established in 1935.
Continue along the yellow blazed fire road as it does four more switchbacks before traversing the mountain and arriving at an unofficial trail and concrete post on the right in 2.3 miles. 0.3 miles further the fire road makes another switchback to the left, then in 0.2 miles arrive at the Stony Mountain Trail junction. Stay straight on the Stony Mountain Trail as the fire road you have been following turns sharply to the right.
Follow the yellow blazed Stony Mountain Trail as it as ascends the mountain. This is the steepest part of the hike and the trail is hard to spot in places. Keep an eye out for the yellow blazes.
From the high point on the trail gently descend for 0.3 miles and arrive at the intersection of the Rapidan Fire Road where the Stony Mountain Trail ends. Turn left downhill on the fire road and look for a rocky mound on the left in 0.4 miles. Climb the mound for the best view of the hike. Continue downhill another 0.4 miles to the intersection of the Upper Dark Hollow Trail where the fire road now veers to the right.
Turn left downhill on the yellow blazed Upper Dark Hollow Trail descending the side of Double Top Mountain. This section of the hike passes through the Rapidan State Wildlife Management Area, and has both red blazes designating the SNP boundary, and yellow blazes for the Upper Dark Hollow Trail. In 1.5 miles the Upper Dark Hollow Trail will turn left downhill. This junction is marked with a 'W' on the right and wooden trail sign on the left. Turn left downhill remaining on the yellow blazed Upper Dark Hollow Trail as it steeply descends for 0.5 miles before crossing Dark Hollow Creek. Continue on the trail for another 0.1 miles where the Upper Dark Hollow Trail ends at the Rose River Fire Road you ascended earlier.
Turn right downhill on the fire road retracing your route over the steel bridge and arriving back at the parking area in 1.1 miles.