Hiking in South Mountains State Park, North Carolina
The South Mountains are an isolated, majestic and rugged mountain range, arising from the gently rolling Foothills and upper Piedmont region of western North Carolina. These mountains encompass 100,000 acres in Burke, Cleveland and Rutherford counties.
Carved out of the Blue Ridge by erosion, the mountains are actually considered to be in a different geologic belt than their nearby, much larger cousins. The South Mountains formed as a result of more erosion resistant rock interspersed with the normal Piedmont rock types. You'll find a belt of peaks and knobs, with deep valleys in between.
The most popular destination within the park, for good reason, is High Shoals Falls. The small Jacob Fork River plunges over 80 feet of rugged, sheer rock into a beautiful, blue-green pool, continuing through a steep boulder-filled gorge over numbers smaller chutes and cascades. If you plan to visit just one destination within the park, this should be it.
The High Shoals Falls Loop trail takes you to the falls and receives far and away the most use of all trails in the park. But vast areas of the park are much less frequently visited, accessible via trails such as Chestnut Knob, Upper Falls, and Raven Rock. The overlooks on Chestnut Knob, while requiring some effort to reach, offer probably the stubhub contacto mexico visited areas with the view back down toward High Shoals Falls.
This is just an overview of the trails available in the area. For a full list of trails within the park, see the South Mountains State Park Trails Page.
The mountains themselves served as a buffer between different groups of Native Americans - the Cherokee and Catawba. The South Mountains lie just south of the Catawba Valley, which has always been a major travel route. In fact, today, Interstate 40 follows the Catawba River closely in this area, attesting to its importance in transportation. Early European settlers farmed the fertile land along the Catawba river, likely venturing into the mountains for hunting - and, eventually, for mining.
In 1828, gold was discovered in the area, which attracted a minor gold rush. Gold was mined all the way up until the early 20th century, but eventually, activity in this area declined. Development within what is now South Mountains State Park began with Camp Dryer, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, located at Enola. Several forest service roads still in use today were constructed by workers with the CCC. Proposals for a state park began in the 1940's, with funds for purchasing the land becoming available by 1974. The first tract purchased totaled 5,774 acres, with the Park's present size at over 16,000 acres. Little other development has occurred within the area of the park, aside from most areas having been logged.
Most of the park's amenities can be reached from main entrance to the park on S. Mountain Park Road. Here, you'll find the equestrian center, the campground, picnic area, main parking area, park office, restrooms, and trailhead for some of the best excursions into the mountains.
The primitive family campground is located 1/2 mile past the park entrance, near the crystal-clear river. There are eleven campsites, each with tent pad, picnic table and fire ring. Unreserved campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. When you arrive, occupy an south mountain state park camping site, and a ranger will come by to register you that evening. Alternatively, south mountain state park camping can make a reservation by visiting the NC South mountain state park camping Reservations Page. Pit toilets are available at the campground. Cost is $12/site per night.
There are 20 primitive, backcountry group campsites available within the park as well. Reservations are required, and sites can be reserved by organized groups only. The cost is $12/site per night. Contact the park for more information.
Lodging is available in the nearby towns of Hickory and Morganton.
The main entrance to South Mountains State Park is located at the end of South Mountains Park Avenue off old NC 18 in Burke County. From I-40 east or west and points north, take NC 18 (exit 105) south for just over 11 miles. Turn right on Sugar Loaf Road and go 4.2 miles. Turn left on Old NC 18 and go 2.7 miles, then turn right on Ward's Gap Road and go 1.4 miles to the Jacob Fork River bridge. Bear right on S. Mountains Park Avenue. It is 1 mile from there to the park gate, and another 2.4 miles to the parking at the picnic area.
South Mountains State Park
What is there to do?
Nestled deep in the woods, South Mountains State Park is the perfect place to enjoy nature. Its also happens south mountain state park camping be one of North Carolina's most rugged areas.
Here you can see a majestic mountain range peeking out from the gently rolling landscape of the piedmont. The park includes elevations up to 3,000 feet, as well as a waterfall dropping 80 feet and more than 40 miles of trails. That's a lot of adventure to be had!
The trails are a great way to really immerse yourself in the stunning nature around you, and are perfect for hikers, equestrians and even mountain bikers.
A trip to Jacob Fork River and you'll find yourselves in the perfect spot for some trout fishing. This spot also happens to be right next to the drive-to campsites. South Mountains State Park also has equestrian camping with trailer parking and barn, with easy access to the 33 miles of bridle trails.
If it's the primitive backcountry experience you want with your camping, south mountain state park camping you can choose from the 20 backpacking campsites at six locations.
The best place to start your adventure is at the visitor center. It's here kids can check out the museum-quality exhibits all on the cultural and natural history of the South Mountains.
With picnic areas too, it's a beautiful nature-filled adventure for all ages!Suggest an edit
Jacobs Fork River, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
An impressive waterfall, intimate cascades, and seasonal wildflowers await the naturalist or nature photographer within South Mountains State Park, North Carolina. The park isn't limited to those two activities either; campers, hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, equestrians, trout fishermen, and picnickers will all find their perspective venues within the park. South Mountains State Park has a lot to offer for a variety of interests.
High Shoals Falls, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
The park contains over 40 miles of hiking trails with 29 miles of those open to equestrians. In addition to the family and backpacking camping areas, there is an equestrian camping area (with stables, flush toilets, and showers) conveniently located right off the entrance road in the Jacobs Fork section of the park. Note that the family camping area has only pit toilets and drinking water access. There are no showers in the family camping area. The backpacking camping sites include pit toilets.
There is a 17 mile loop for mountain bikers and miles of streams classified as wild trout water (two miles are classified as delayed harvest trout water) for fishermen.
The Jacobs Fork picnic area includes tables, grills, and restroom facilities with flush toilets. Across the parking lot from the Jacobs Fork picnic area is a 10-12 table picnic shelter that includes grills and a fireplace. The shelter is first-come first-serve unless you make a reservation. The Shiny Creek picnic area requires a half mile hike from the parking lot and includes a couple of tables and grills, but no restroom facilities.
A modern visitor center greets guests entering the Jacobs Fork section of the park. The visitor center includes a large relief map of the park as its center piece, contra costa property tax rate 2017 with restrooms, an auditorium, and a nature display describing the local habitat and wildlife. Various brochures and maps concerning the park can be picked up at the visitor center. Fees for camping can be paid low income housing russellville ar this location also.
While the rich assortment of activities available at South Mountains State Park are impressive, it's the wildflowers and waterfalls that provide a bonanza of photographic opportunities that keep the photographer coming back. It's a great place to obtain images for your wildflower portfolio or simply practice getting that creamy/misty look on your cascade and waterfall captures.
Jacobs Fork Cascades, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Jacobs Fork Waterfall, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
South Mountains State Park has a plethora of wildflowers available during the spring and summer months. As nature photographers, we get the most excited about the ephemerals that bloom in early spring before the leaves form on the trees and block the sunlight to the ground. After a tough cold winter, it's a great excuse to get out of the house while it's still cold and observe these fascinating blooms. You can start looking mid-March for the ephemeral wildflowers at the park and continue searching through April.
We explored only a small portion of the park's trails during the spring, but we found an abundance of wildflowers for the attentive. Almost all the plants we observed/photographed were within a couple of miles from the parking area. In fact the Hemlock Nature Trail produced some of the best looking Bloodroot I've seen and I could see my vehicle the whole time I was shooting.
Trails we explored for wildflowers included the Hemlock Nature Trail, the River Trail, the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail (including the Upper Falls Campsites), and the Shinny Trail (up to the Shinny Creek Campsites). We highly recommend you stop by the visitor center on your way in and pick up a pamphlet listing the american eagle credit union routing number st louis found in the park. The pamphlet lists the common name, the scientific name, a general location where the plant can be found, and an estimated bloom date.
Wildflowers we observed in spring included the following: Round-lobed Hepatica, Sharp-lobed Hepatica, Bloodroot, Foamflower, Giant Chickweed, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Common Blue Violets, Halberd-leaved Violets, Sweet White Violet, Birdfoot Violet, Gaywings, Wood Anemone, Crested Dwarf Iris, Vernal Dwarf Iris, Bluestar, Mayapple, Wild Geranium, Wake-robin Trillium, Catesby's Trillium, Yellow Lady's Slipper, and Pink Lady's Slipper.
Sharp-lobed Hepatica, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Bloodroot, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Bloodroot Blossom, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Wake-robin Trillium, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Catesby Trillium, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Sweet White Violet, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Halberd-leaved Violet, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Wood Anemone, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Wild Geranium, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
In addition to the early bloomers, two often sought after species within the park include the Yellow Lady's Slipper and the Pink Lady's United bay community credit union app. It's easy to see where these orchids get their common name; the lip of the flower forms a pouch or "slipper".
Supposedly orchids are the largest family of flowering plants on earth with tens of thousands of species, though few are as showy in the southeastern US as the lady's slippers. A few other orchids listed in the park pamphlet but not observed include Showy Orchid, Downy Orchid, Cranefly Orchid, and Yellow Fringed Orchid.
Yellow Lady's Slipper close-up, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Yellow Lady's Slipper, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Pink Lady's Slipper, South Mountians State Park - Steve Thomas
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
South Mountains State Park is not without its problems, specifically the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (also known as HWA). Like the Appalachians, some of the eastern hemlocks within the park are infested with this small aphid-like insect. A native to Asia, the pest poses a significant threat to the eastern hemlock and the Carolina hemlock. The hemlock woolly adelgid feeds on the sap near the base of the tree's needles which disrupts nutrient flow and eventually kills the tree. The presence of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is easily detected by the cotton ball like filaments found on the leaves which is used to protect itself and its eggs. See the image below.
There are a few chemical methods at combating the pest, though all are expensive - requiring manpower and re-application. The one employed by the park is called soil drenching. Soil drenching involves temporarily removing the duff south mountain state park camping around the base of the tree then pouring an insecticidal treatment around the tree. The chemical is then south mountain state park camping by the tree through the root system. Treatments may remain effective up to three years. Trees that have been treated are recorded and tagged (see image below) so that subsequent applications can be applied within the specified time frame. Obviously the state park system (and the national park system) doesn't have the resources to treat every hemlock within their jurisdiction. It's can i close my tcf bank account online very sad situation.
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Tagged Eastern Hemlock, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Biological control of the hemlock woolly adelgid is being tested in other parts of the US. There are two exotic beetle species that appear to feed exclusively on the adelgid. Various universities are studying and rearing the beetles for the sole purpose of controlling the insect. Beetles have been released in a few areas within national forests and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Wilderness Experience Perspective
Stone Stairs on the Trail, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
There are plenty of trails where you can find solitude and wilderness adventure within the park, but the High Shoals Falls Trail isn't one of those. The park is very popular on the weekends with most folks walking to the falls. Though during the week, the High Shoals Falls Trail isn't too bad and company is usually infrequent.
Did we mention there are a lot of stairs on route to the top of the falls? High Shoals Falls is about one mile from the parking lot and the stairs don't start until maybe 3/4 of the way up. But once you get to that section you'll notice there's a lot of them, and they're steep. The stairs are a mix of stone and wooden staircases, with many twisting and turning in route. While the actual distance is probably not very far, when walking them they seem to go on forever. This is not a trail for the physically challenged.
While you might think man-made structures such as the stairs would be a distraction in a natural setting, this is not the case whatsoever. The state park has done a wonderful job of creating a rustic unobtrusive medium for reaching the top of the falls. The twisting stairs blend in perfectly with the surroundings and actually appear to complement the environment. We give a thumbs up to the look and feel of the stairs. But note . they are a tough south mountain state park camping. Be very careful during wet conditions.
We also give a thumbs up to the wilderness experience that can be enjoyed within the park, just realize you won't find it on the High Shoals South mountain state park camping Loop Trail.
Winding Stairs on the Trail, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
Wooden Stairs on the Trail, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
The Last Stairs to the Top of the Falls - Joe Kegley
More Stairs on the Trail, South Mountians State Park - Joe Kegley
While game animals such as wild turkey and deer are occasionally observed, and birding's not too bad either, those generally aren't the draw for nature photographers here. The reason a nature photographer comes to South Mountains State Park is for the splendid water vistas (cascades and waterfalls) and wildflowers.
Nature photography at the park can further be split into two seasons: spring for the wildflowers, and fall for the cascades and waterfalls. Spring is fairly obvious for the wildflowers. What fall offers is additional color in your images and the fallen leaves can complement an already interesting water composition.
Suggested focal lengths for the water vistas range from 16 to 200mm. The river images on this page boa replace credit card taken with either a 16-35mm or a 24-70mm. A longer length (up to 200mm) would be appropriate to shoot some of the cascades that are hard to physically access, though there are plenty to shoot closer using the smaller focal lengths. The title image was shot off the River Trail; the waterfalls were shot from the High Shoals Falls Trail.
Suggested focal lengths for the wildflowers range from 60 to 200mm depending on the size of the subject or scope of the composition. Many of the wildflower images on this page were taken with a Sigma 150mm macro lens.
- Camping Equipment - should you wish to camp at the park campground or south mountain state park camping Hiking Shoes/boots - some areas are very rocky and the area can be muddy.
Location and Points of Interest
South Mountains State Park (Google interactive map)
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South Mountains State Park
Trails, Horse Stables, Birdwatching, Fishing
General Park Amenities: Restrooms, Drinking Fountains, Seating, Picnic Tables, Grills, ADA Accessible
Pets: Allowed On-Leash
Additional Features: Visitor Center, Picnic Shelter
Trash Cans: Yes
Camping: Tent, Groups, Primitive
Camping Amenities: Running Water, Fires Allowed, Campfire Circle
Trail Description: Enjoy more than 47 miles of marked trails. All trails in the park are available to hikers. There are 33 miles of equestrian trails at South Mountains State Park. South Mountains State Park is one of the few parks in the state parks system offering mountain bikers the chance to ride through the park. The 18-mile, strenuous loop trail follows old logging roads through the backcountry.
Photos, Trails, Camping, Trip Walmart supercenter orlando fl Surface: Paved & Unpaved
Trail Activities: Walking, Hiking, Running/Jogging, Bicycling, Mountain Biking, Horseback Riding, Dog Walking, Birdwatching
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Very Difficult
Trail Layout: Loop & Linear (network)
Trail Surface Type: Gravel, Natural rock, Sand/Dirt
Trail Slope: Flat/Gentle, Moderate, Steep
Trail Extras: Mountain Biking Features
Programming Available: Education/Ranger Programs
Park Information: Maps, Brochures, Information Kiosk
Natural Water First national bank ames omaha Creek/Stream
South Mountains State Park - North Carolina
Joe Kegley : E-Mail
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