Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fairystone State Park

Last week we took the kids to Fairystone State Park. We visit this park at least once every summer to swim. They have a nice swimming area, paddle boats, hiking trails and a playground. i'm not a huge fan of public beaches, but the kids love it. This year, Nana was visiting so we brought her along.

This year, for the first time, we decided to hunt for fairy stones. Fairy stones are staurolite, a combination of silica, iron and aluminum. Staurolite crystallizes at 60 or 90 degree angles, giving the stone's a cross-like structure. They are found only in rocks once subjected to great heat and pressure, the mineral was formed long, long ago, during the rise of the Appalachian Mountains.
The stones are most commonly shaped like St. Andrew’s cross, an "X," but "T" shaped Roman crosses and square Maltese crosses are less common, and considered somewhat rare. These rare staurolite stones are found a few other places, but not in such abundance as at Fairy Stone State Park.

We had a great time hunting fairy stones. It took us a little while to figure out what exactly we were looking for..but we found a couple we started finding them everywhere.

These are a few of the best ones we found. These are the St. Andrew’s crosses, and a couple singles. We had a great time hunting stones. It was just like a treasure hunt. i could have spent all day just hunting stones, and avoiding the beach all together. :) The kids however, really wanted to swim. So we headed to the beach.

The swimming area has a nice kids beach, where the water is shallow and there are lots of big toys in the water for the kids to play on. They have several other areas roped off, a slightly deeper section behind the kids area and then beach area that goes out to floating dock with a slide. Fairystone is always pretty busy, but because of the different areas the crowd is usually pretty split up. The kids area is reserved for the younger kids, while the older tend to play in the deeper water. The teens and adults hang out in the side beach and on the floating dock.

My kids are not real strong swimmers, so we stay in the kids area. When we pulled in we noticed their really were not that many cars there, BUT there were 3 school buses.

There were 160 kids in one of the groups, and there was a day care that must have had another 20-30 kids. The kids area was so crowded, my kids couldn't even get on the toys to play. Many of the other kids played very rough, had very little supervision and it made it a not very fun time for us.

So we took a break from the beach to have a picnic, and then went on an hour long paddle boat ride around the lake.

When we returned to the beach, we were thrilled to see 160 kids loading on to the buses. :)

It made the rest of the day much more pleasant for everyone. :) The kids were able to play on all the toys, and i was able to keep track of them much easier, which made me much more relaxed.

i can only handle so much swimming, and so i left Kenan and Nana to swim with the kids so i could wander around and take some pictures. On the edge of the swimming area, i found several dragonflies, and some Canadian geese.

i also spotted this Five-lined Skink hanging out in front of the bathrooms.

This isn't the best picture, but i have never seen a dragonfly this color before. It was really small compared the other dragonflies, and was an iridescent gold color. It never moved from top of this weed the whole time i was taking pictures. The others were moving around constantly.

After a long day of swimming and playing at Fairy stone, we headed home. We stopped at Lover's leap for a few pictures. The view was incredible, but we were really disappointed by the amount of trash and graffiti on the wall, rocks, trees etc. It seems to be a popular place for folks to unload the contents of their car. The embankment next to where we parked was covered in trash from folks using it as a dump. So disappointing to see. Both of my kids noticed it immediately and were completely confused and upset as to why anyone would do such a thing. i wish i had an answer for them, but i don't understand it either. Sometimes people just suck.

We really enjoyed hunting the Fairy stones, and would love to do it again. i'd also like to spend more time hiking the trails here. Honestly, i could do without the beach, but the kids love it, so we'll be back again next summer. :)


  1. What a fun outing! The fairy stones look really neat, we collect rocks and gems and I haven't heard of these, what a great shape! Wonderful pictures of the dragonflies and skink!

  2. What a fun idea and a great memory for children. I would have *loved* finding fairy rocks as a child, what a lovely memory this will be for them.