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“What a great surprise!”

South Mountains State Park
Ranked #423 of 2,673 things to do in North Carolina
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed July 11, 2013

Beautiful rivers, mountains, waterfalls, trails and there is no entrance fee for day visitors! There is plenty of backcountry for backpacking weekends, and roads are concentrated in one very small portion of the park.
Equestrian use is fine, as is mountain biking.
I was expecting access from the north side, off hwy 64. Access for now is on the southeast side, away from Morganton. Fairly well-marked from Morganton. Could use a couple more signs, coming off I-40.

1  Thank Anne K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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72 - 76 of 87 reviews

Reviewed June 29, 2013

The South Mountain State Park is approximately 1.5 hour drive from Charlotte, NC. Get there early because it seems like a really popular place. Very near the entrance is the Nature Center and it was a quaint place to visit. They have an exhibit room showing the trees, plants, and animals native to the area. You can press buttons on the exhibits and hear a noise of the animal being explained at that exhibit. There are also public restrooms, which is always important to know!

We parked at the very last parking lot, where the road deadends. There is a large picnic area where you can grill and sit under the shade trees. There were two very large families having a picnic/family reunion so there is a lot of room for large gatherings.

We hiked the High Shoals Falls Loop Trail and came back on the Hemlock Nature Trail which was very even and easy and pleasant. There are some very steep stairs to climb during the High Shoals Falls Loop trail and you will see several waterfalls along the way. The stairs do have railings to hold onto and some benches along the way if you get tired, which I do, (thank you State of North Carolina for adding benches to the climb LOL). You can take off your shoes and wade in the water and of course your dogs would probably love this part too!

On the Hemlock Nature Trail there are many kiosks that explain the local wildlife, plants, and trees. This is a place I would like to visit again if I want to get away from the city and the trails are not that bad to me, especially the Hemlock Nature Trail. I have posted a few photos as well.

5  Thank CarolinasGal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 10, 2013

This is the third time we have been to this park. It is great for hiking and a lot of people bring their horses for the horse trails which are open to everyone else too (all trails are not horse trails though). We went up to the Jacob's Fork River Gorge overlook first using the Chestnut Knob trail and it is pretty strenuous, it doesn't look very far on the map it is all uphill and pretty steep so it is a great workout. From there we continued up the Chestnut Knob to that overlook which is beautiful! Go out to the rock croppings to see the actual overlook which takes a little bit of rock hopping. We ate our lunch on the rocks overlooking the gorge. From there we did the Sawtooth trail which is a horse trail and use for all (so watch out for "road apples") and isn't as steep as other non horse trails (horse trails are meant for horses and are not nearly as steep and wider than regular hiking trails). We took it over to the "Little River Trail" where we crossed a small creek and is the PERFECT spot to take off your hiking boots and wade in the river, so refreshing for feet that have been bound up in hiking boots for hours-well worth the effort to take off your hiking boots and socks, FYI, these creeks are COLD but feel great on your feet. We took this trail back to the parking lot.
We tend to hit this park on Sundays. We got there at 10:30 and there were maybe 8 cars in the parking lot. We got back to the parking lot at 2:00 and the parking lot was almost full. When we left we saw a lot of horse trailers at the horse trailer parking however we didn't see ONE not ONE horse on the trail we were on (though we were following fresh horse tracks and lots of horse poop). Also when we were on the hiking trail, we passed ONE person on the Chestnut knob trail, there was ONE person at the Chestnut Knob Overlook and we didn't see anyone else until we were 1/2 mile from the end of the hike on the Little River trail. This place is popular for picnics and creek wading which takes no hiking to get too.

3  Thank Valerie D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2013

We visited South Mountain State Park this weekend and hiked the High Shoals Falls Trail. It is classified as "strenuous" but the clear wide trails, and stairs with handrails made it much less strenuous in my opinion. It does get steep, especially when hiking to the final climb to the viewing platform. Overall, I was very impressed with how clean and well maintained the park was, and friendly staff added to the overall enjoyable experience!

2  Thank NCJoni
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 10, 2013

If you enjoy hiking with lots of water this is the place.Also if you have a horse I would strongly recommend it.Wonderful equine trails.The park is laid out beautifully.All trail heads leave from and return to one central location.Hiking ranges from easy to difficult.At the park Information Center they have a very nice exhibit showing and explaining everything about the foliage and the wildlife within the park.From the Center you go two miles up into the park where you have one central parking area.For anyone who is in the general area and loves nature I strongly recommend this state park.On a scale of 1-10 I would rate it a 9+.ENJOY!Mother nature awaits you in all her splendor.

3  Thank O2BeTraveling
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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