I am going up to Stokes next weekend with my son, this will be his first overnight. I am not sure if we will stay at the shelter or at a camp site. how busy is the AT at this time of year in that area.
Al- I don't know how busy, but I'm sure they'll be folks out there. The campsites look pretty full at Ocquittunk. Not sure what you have in mind, but hiking from Ocquittunk, Shotwell or Steammill (the three camping areas at Stokes) up to the AT and back are all 6-8 mile plus hikes round trip, probably a good 4-6 hours minimum for an adult with 30lbs of equipment. If you're unsure of length you and your son are up to, maybe drive out the park, go south on 206 1/2 miles and re enter the park via Sunrise Mtn Rd. 1.5 miles up the Road you can pull off and park (not a lot but roadside pulloffs) at the "Tower" (green blaze) trail. It's less than 1/2 mile up to AT and the fire tower. Then head north for about a mile on the At and go down at the "stony brook" (brown blaze)trail. Stop and see the Gren Anderson shelter too (this is the only AT shelter in Stokes) here on your descent. It's less than 1/4 mile from At to sunrise mtn road again. Turn left (south) and head one mile along road to your car. Maybe a 2 hour walk total and some great views. When you get back to your car drive north and stop at the Sunrise mtn lookout then head back to your campsite, if staying in Stokes. If you leave your car on Sunrise overnight near the "Tower" trailhead" to camp at gren anderson shelter, the cops very well might bother/ticket you ( I think it's $75). They do parol this road at night and probably stop at this shelter as its a 5 minute walk from the road. it's popular for local teens to party up here. You can't leave car at sunrise mtn lookout either, same deal. I'd just walk in the stokes office and pay $20 for a site (Shotwell and steam mill always have some walk ins available). There is parking right off 206 when you turn onto Sunrise mtn road- this is where you can park overnight and hike 4-5 miles to Gren Anderson if you want to camp there.
Sunrise Mountain Road is one way (northbound) so drive slow - if you pass your trail, it will take 20 minutes to loop back!
If you don't have a good map send me a private message. The state park map they give you leaves much to be desired.