For the best hiking in North Carolina, I like to visit the Crowders Mountain State Park. I’ve tried several of their hiking trails through the years as well as the trails at nearby Kings Mountain in South Carolina.
During a recent visit to Crowders Mountain State Park, I decided to hike the Ridgeline Trail with my son. Whenever you hike the 6.2 (one-way) Ridgeline Trail, you have to register with the people at the park office.
We started by taking the 1.7 mile “strenuous” Pinnacle Trail to get to the Ridgeline Trail, which is considered “moderate” and takes you through a forest of hardwood trees. My son decided he wanted to jog instead of walk/hike, but there were several spots on the trails when it was not safe to jog due to rocks.
For the most part, the Pinnacle Trail is rather rocky. We hiked during the autumn when the leaves created a soft blanket on the trail, but also hid rocks. Once we got to the Ridgeline Trail, it was less rocky and more even. At one point we had to cross Pinnacle Road.
Since we were jogging, I did not plan to go the entire 15.8 miles (including Pinnacle and Ridgeline both directions). I estimate we covered about 6.5 miles. Jogging the trail was exhilarating and meant we could finish it in less time.
Some of the plants along the trail include red maple, American beech, oak, ferns, flowering dogwood and Virginia pine trees.
Although I have never seen wildlife, I understand Crowders Mountain State Park is home to frogs, muskrats, raccoons, Virginia possums, salamanders, turtles, eastern moles, chipmunks, foxes, snakes and many birds.
The hike was very scenic. We could see the changing colors of the leaves and watch the leaves fall to the ground. I’ve also taken the other trails in the past and climbed rocks to be able to get a panoramic view of the countryside below. Use extreme caution, however, since the drops are steep.
Crowders Mountain and Kings Pinnacle rise 800 feet above the surrounding countryside. They are surviving peaks that were part of the Appalachian chain. Crowders mountain has an elevation of 1.625 feet and is a registered natural heritage area.
If you are looking for hiking trails in North Carolina, some of the other trails we have hiked in the past at Crowders mountain include the Backside Trail, which is .7 miles; the Fern Trail, which is .8 miles; the Lake Trail, which is .8 miles; the Rocktop Trail, which is 1.4 miles, the Tower Trail, which is 1.8 miles and the Turnback Trail, which is 1.1 miles. Most people hike several of these trails in one day for variety.
Hiking is a fun and easy way to get in shape. It was motivating for me to have my son pushing me to run up the hills. It was a more challenging workout compared to the Insanity workout!
Crowders Mountain State Park is located in Gaston and Cleveland counties. The park is 30 miles west of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Crowders Mountain State Park is open from November to February from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. March, April, September and October from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and May through August from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. They are closed Christmas Day.
To get there for the best hiking in North Carolina, take I-85 exit 13 and turn left. Go to U.S. Hwy. 74. Turn right and go about three miles to Sparrow Springs Road. Go left and follow sings. For more information, visit www.ncparks.gov.
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