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Crowders Mountain State Park

Crowders Mountain
Crowders Mountain is a state park southwest of Charlotte near the South Carolina border in Gaston and Cleveland Counties.  The closest town to the park is Kings Mountain and it is about 45 minutes from Charlotte.

There are two prominent peaks in the park - Crowders Mountain and Kings Pinnacle.  These kyanite-quartzite monadnocks have resisted the erosive forces that have effected other peaks and now they stand 800 feet above the surrounding countryside in the western end of the Piedmont.  Crowders Mountain is 1,625 feet above sea level and Kings Pinnacle is 1,705 feet.  These peaks form the northwest portion of the Kings Mountain Range that stretches into South Carolina.

Prior to European colonization, the area that is now Crowders Mountain State Park was prairie land grazed by buffalo and the mountains marked the border between the hunting lands of the Catawba and Cherokee tribes.  In the 18th century, as European settlers entered the area, the Catawba retreated south.  In the early 19th century, gold was discovered here and North Carolina was the primary gold-producing state until the discovery of gold in California.  In the 1970s, concerned citizens from Gaston County organized to preserve the mountains from mining.  The state purchased the land and the park was open to the public in 1974.  In 1977, the summit of Crowders Mountain was included in the park and additional land including Kings Pinnacle was acquired in 1987.  An additional 2,000 acres were purchased in 2000, connecting the park with Kings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park in South Carolina.

Contact Information:
522 Park Office Lane
Kings Mountain, NC 28086

Phone: (704) 853-5375

Email: crowders.mountain@ncdenr.gov

GPS Coordinates: 35.213316, -81.293555

Directions:

From Charlotte and points north, take I-85 south to exit 13.  Turn left on Edgewood Road and turn right at the first stoplight onto US-74.  After about two miles, turn left at the stoplight onto Sparrow Springs Road and turn right after about two miles to stay on Sparrow Springs Road.  The park entrance will be on the right in less than a mile.  From points south, take I-85 north to exit 8.  Turn right onto NC-161 then left onto Lake Montonia/Pinnacle Road.  At the stop sign, turn left onto Sparrow Springs Road and the park entrance will be on the left after about a mile.

Map:

Crowders Mountain State Park

Hiking:

There are more than ten miles of hiking trails in the park, providing a great way to see the park and the scenic vistas from atop the peaks.  The trails in the park that I've hiked are listed below.

Backside Trail:

Length: 0.9 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: Orange Hexagon

The Backside Trail leads from the Linwood Access Area to the summit of Crowders Mountain.  The terminus of the Crowders Trail is about half way along the trail.  From the intersection of the Backside and Crowders Trails, there is a strenuous climb to the top of the mountain, including 336 wooden stairs.  Before reaching the communication tower at the summit, there is an overlook with great views of the surrounding countryside.  On a clear day (unlike in the picture below), you can see the Charlotte skyline.

View from Overlook

Crowders Trail:

Length: 2.5 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: White Diamond

The Crowders Trail starts at the Visitor Center and shortly turns to the right (the Pinnacle Trail turns left).  After about a mile, the trail crosses Sparrow Springs/Freedom Mill Road.  Use caution when crossing the street.  There is a button on both sides of the street that will activate the flashing pedestrian crossing lights to notify oncoming traffic.  After crossing the street, the trail turns left (right is the Rocktop Trail) and follows along the base of Crowders Mountain before ending at Backside Trail.  Turn right on Backside Trail to continue to the summit of Crowders Mountain.

Crowders Mountain

Family Camping Trail:

Length: 0.2 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Easy
Blaze: Red Square (with a single tent)

The Family Camping Trail splits off from the Pinnacle Trail and leads to the family campground.

Pinnacle Trail:

Length: 1.7 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: Orange Circles

The Pinnacle Trail starts at the Visitor Center, following the Crowders Trail, and shortly turns to the left (where Crowders Trail turns right).  After about half a mile, the trails to the group and family campsites split off to the right and the Turnback Trail splits to the left.  As the trail ascends King's Pinnacle, there are a couple switchbacks and then the trail heads straight up to the summit, with the last half mile or so being quite steep.  Shortly before the summit, the Ridgeline splits to the left.

King's Pinnacle

Rocktop Trail:

Length: 1.5 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: Red Square

The Rocktop Trail starts at the Sparrow Springs/Freedom Mill Road crossing heading to the right (left is the Crowders Trail) and ends at the Crowders Mountain Summit.  This trail crosses several challenging rock outcroppings, so use caution while hiking.

Rocktop Trail

Tower Trail:

Length: 2.0 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Strenuous
Blaze: Light Blue Square

The Tower Trail leads from the Linwood Access Area to the radio towers at the summit of Crowders Mountain.  The trail follows an old roadbed up the mountain, becoming increasingly steep as it approaches the mountain.

Communication Tower

Turnback Trail:

Length: 0.9 miles (one way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Blaze: White Triangles

The Turnback Trail leads from the southeast corner of the Visitor Center parking lot and ends at the Pinnacle Trail about three-quarters of a mile from the summit of King's Pinnacle.

Blog Entries:

19 Dec 2015 - Holiday Hike in Gaston County

External Links:

NC State Parks website: http://ncparks.gov/crowders-mountain-state-park

Friends of Crowders Mountain website: http://friendsofcrowders.com/

Photos:


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