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Crowders Mountain State Park - Kings Mountain, NC

Efficient Admin (aka Michelle) has been hiking for eight years on the wonderful mountain trails of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Introduction

In 2013, Crowders Mountain was voted the #1 state park in North Carolina. This spectacular mountain, like other state parks in North Carolina, would not exist today if it were not for the efforts of concerned citizens dedicated to protecting our environment from continued development and rises 800 feet above the surrounding countryside. Crowders Mountain has an elevation of 1,625 feet and is a registered natural heritage area that features sheer vertical cliffs and is geologically classified as kyanite-quartzite monadnocks, only the strength of quartzite has allowed these pinnacles to withstand the wind, water, and other forces that eroded less resistant peaks.

Crowders Mountain offers hiking, rock climbing, and camping. There are sheer vertical cliffs that drop 150 feet. You can have a front row seat to views that stretch more than 20 miles high atop The Kings Pinnacle, which is the highest point in Gaston County (see photos of atop The Kings Pinnacle). This area also offers a variety of terrain such as valleys, cross some foothills, enjoy quiet woods with trickling streams and many songbirds for music.

Overview of Crowders Mountain State Park - Kings Mountain, NC

History

Before the arrival of European settlers, much of the land in this area was natural prairie grazed by herds of buffalo and was a major trading route of the Cherokee Indians. The Catawba and Cherokee Indians hunted in these mountains. In 1775 approximately 80,000 settlers migrated to these mountains from the northern colonies. A treaty in 1777 allowed white settlers as far west as the Blue Ridge Mountains move peacefully southward, however the settlers and the Cherokee Indians had conflicts until after the Revolutionary War.

Valuable minerals were discovered in this area and had a considerable impact on the area. In 1799 a 17-pound gold nugget was found and another weighing in at 28 pounds was discovered in 1803. Soon after, a high quantity of these valuable minerals was uncovered near Crowders Mountain. North Carolina as the chief gold-producing state in the nation, right after the discovery of gold in California in 1849. Hundreds of mines in at least 10 counties scarred the land during this North Carolina gold rush. Kyanite was also mined, and open-pit mining took place near Crowders, which produced a devastating effect on the environment.

When exploratory drilling and excavation began in 1970, the threat that Crowders Mountain would be mined led local citizens to seek its preservation. The Gaston County Conservation Society was organized to alert people to the danger of the loss of the landmark, to block mining operations and to encourage the state to acquire the mountain for a park. Based upon the group’s proposal in 1971, the state approved Crowders Mountain as a potential state park, and funds were designated for land acquisition a year later. This new state park opened to the public in 1974, but it was not until 1977 that the summit of Crowders Mountain was included within the park boundary. Kings Pinnacle and the additional acreage were acquired in 1987.

In the year 2000, 2000 acres of additional land was added to Crowders Mountain State Park. It was funded by the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund and the NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. This land connects the state park to Kings Mountain National Military Park and Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina.

Hiking Trails

You can really appreciate the beauty and diversity of Crowders when you hike on the miles of trails. They are lined with wildflowers and mountain laurel along the ridges and to the summits. Other trails are easy meandering through pastoral settings. You can circle the lake on a gravel path or view aquatic plants and animals along a narrow creek. Bring a pair of binoculars and do some bird watching or tote a camera and capture the beauty of the wildflowers in bloom. There is a trail for everyone at Crowders: easy, moderate, and strenuous. Here is a brief description of each trail:

Pinnacle Trail: Strenuous 2-mile (one-way) trail begins at the Visitor Center and ends at the summit of King’s Pinnacle, the highest point in Gaston County at 1,705 feet. This is a very popular trail at Crowders and if you plan to visit I would highly recommend you get there before 9:00 a.m. if possible to get a parking space.

This trail has a lot of elevation but that does not stop the crowds of people from hiking it. It is mostly a climb up two miles to the top. Once you get real close to the Pinnacle it is extremely steep. You will then have to climb some large boulders to get to the view. You may want to take hiking poles on this trail, if you are so inclined to use poles.

Ridgeline Trail: Moderate 6.2 mile (one-way) trail starting near the summit of Kings Pinnacle, following the ridgeline all the way to the South Carolina State line. There is a visitor center called the Boulder Area Access at this section of the trail. The Ridgeline trail then continues 2.5 miles into South Carolina through Kings Mountain State Park, and then ends at the 16 mile Kings Mountain National Recreation Trail that goes through Kings Mountain State Park and Kings Mountain National Military Park. Wow that is a mouthful! You can also start this trail into South Carolina from the Boulder's Area Access on Vandyke Road, which would be an out-and-back of 6.2 miles total. You will pass through two gas pipeline clearings once you cross over into South Carolina. The trail deadends at the Kings Mountain State Park loop trail. You will know when you get to this area because it is a "T" intersection. There is also a big sign and a wooden bench where you can stop and have a lunch break before turning around and backtracking into North Carolina.