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“South Mountain State Park - NC's largest - multiuse, and lots to do!”

South Mountains State Park
Ranked #416 of 2,534 things to do in North Carolina
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Polkville, North Carolina
Level Contributor
13 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“South Mountain State Park - NC's largest - multiuse, and lots to do!”
Reviewed March 8, 2012

At nearly 87,000 acres of land, South Mountain SP is the largest the state has to offer (other than a myriad of Nat'l lands). One of the closest mountain parks to Charlotte (1hr drive), and now boasting a huge new (and GORGEOUS!) visitor's center, a great day trip for a "mountainous" experience for a vast area of the Piedmont of NC.

Hiking: This park was once a forestry area, and a large portion of the "trails" are indeed maintained logging roads. Logging roads are meant to keep trucks away from any sort of precipice... which is a little aggravating as a hiker, as it's the VIEWS that are missed by such a layout. However, don't despair! Possum, Headquarters, Jacob's Creek, and Chestnut Knob are all wonderful foot trails with great views... and even the Horseridge is quite amazing (which is a road). Of course, the falls are totally outstanding... especially after a rain.

Biking and Equestrian: Where a hiker may find fault with logging trails, they're PERFECT for biking and horses! The roads are VERY well maintained to at least 18-20' above paths, some with occasional water crossings.

From my back patio, I can see the whole of Benn Knob (the true South Mountain), and since I take my dog there for hikes at least 4X/month (for the past 6 years), I definitely have learned where all the "spurs" to vistas can be found. I'm just a little bummed they spent millions on the new VC, and didn't create any new foot trails... but that's just me.


Visited March 2012
6 Thank PjinPville
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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80 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Hickory, North Carolina
Level Contributor
24 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Beautiful Park with many trails”
Reviewed July 1, 2011

I've been to South Mountains State Park many times. Most times I've hiked to the falls, which are really beautiful. There are lots of stairs involved in this hike and generally lots of people. Not so good for my two pups and my peace of mind.

This past spring, a friend and I wanted to do something different so we stopped at the Visitor Center and bought a topo map. We wanted a hike of about 5 miles, so the ranger told us the Possum Trail was very pretty and might suit our needs. We started at the parking lot, went past the first set of picnic tables and the bathrooms and took the trail up to the Shinny Creek Campsites. This section of the trail follows Shinny Creek, a nice tumbling little stream.

Once past the campsite, we started on Possum only to find that the creek crossing was a little too deep due to some recent rains. We turned back and using the map, decided to take the Headquarters Trail up to the Upper Falls Trail and go back down the Jacob Branch Trail. The Headquarters Trail was quite steep, but a good workout. Given the time of year, there were some really nice views. Once the leaves are on the trees, you wouldn't see quite so much.

The Upper Falls Trail follows the top of a ridge so we got some great views on both sides of the trail. The Jacob Branch Trail is very steep. Be careful descending as it's easy to slide on the leaf covered rocks and I got the bruises to prove it. This was a surprisingly beautiful hike so don't be afraid to try some of the less heavily travelled trails. There are many more things to see in South Mountains than the falls and all have their charms.

Visited March 2011
2 Thank bbradshaw_98
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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