Stone Mountain State Park may be one of the most unique natural areas for engagement sessions on the east coast. Its prominent feature is a huge dome of natural granite — like the Yosemite of North Carolina. As a result, Stone Mountain State Park features some of the best rock climbing in North Carolina. But if rock climbing isn’t your thing, the hiking there is absolutely spectacular as well.
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For Aylish and Dave’s engagement session, we opted for the Wolf Rock Trail. It’s only 2.5 miles round trip, but the summit makes you feel like you are on an entirely different planet.
It’s a space as big as two football fields of gently sloping granite with mountain views in the background. Basically, you have as much space as you need to get away from other visitors and still have plenty of room to move around.
The hike up is moderate — you switch back and forth for about a mile and a quarter and then, you’re done!
Most people of average fitness could this hike.
It’s also a less popular hike than the Stone Mountain Trail but has equally spectacular views. Even though we visited on a Saturday morning, we had this massive space all to ourselves. It was incredible!
A few weeks before their session, Aylish reached out and asked if she could propose to Dave during it. He had already proposed to her, but she wanted to reciprocate. While he was in the trailhead bathroom she showed me the band she had picked out.
Her skirt has pockets so she slipped it inside one of them before the hike and we continued on our way.
After a few shots, I asked Dave to turn away from us and Aylish would come up behind him and give him a hug. When he turned around she looked at me and mouthed “now?” I gave her a thumbs up.
When he turned around again she was on one knee. He knew it was coming someday, but was completely surprised it was today because she had told him it wouldn’t be today. She said she figured the white lie was ok for the surprise.
Afterward they were giddy and joyful and we just laughed and played the rest of the session.
For most of my career I’ve photographed the majority of my engagement sessions in Shenandoah National Park. But since moving to southwestern Virginia, I’m working a lot more in state parks and natural areas.
And I’m learning the rules are actually different for state parks vs. national parks.
Here’s what you need to know if you want to have your engagement photos at Stone Mountain.
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