Hiking South Mountain State Park


Sherri and I

We decided on a hike in our area. This park is just about an hour from us and we haven’t been here in a couple of years. It was raining most of the way but was supposed to be a nice day. It doesn’t matter though, we are just happy to be going!

We took the usual tourist route up to High Shoals Falls. I have forgotten how pretty this park was. The trail follows the river up over boulders and rock slides. They have added signs that tell about each area. I do enjoy reading those. It said as recent as 1989 because of hurricane Hugo these rock pieces slid from above!

The next area is the cascades below the falls. Water dropping around boulders.

They have built bridges over and up to the falls. The falls is visible from this point.

I definitely forgot how many stairs there was to the falls! I’d almost prefer to pull myself up a mountain tree by tree than climb steps! These went up to the falls and to a nice viewing area.

Then more steps up to the top of the falls.

This is one of my favorite spots here. It’s a bridge over a mildly calm river just before it goes over the falls with a nice view.

Instead of doing a short loop we took the trail up to the Headquarters trail. Lots more stairs. The trails here are nice and wide. Not rocky and full of roots. That doesn’t mean they are easy because they are steep. I think this area has about 3000 ft elevation but they are not very wide so .. steep!

It hasn’t been raining and the sun was now coming out. The temperature started in the 40’s and was now in the upper 60’s.

On the left it was just burning off the fog and on the right nice blue skies.

We walked around to the Shinny creek camping area and had lunch. It had about 5 sites along the River, already cut wood and a brand new privy.

We headed back down the trail and saw a deer grazing just up the hill from us. It didn’t seam scared and just moseyed by. I took a picture but he blended in with the leaves. As this trail heads down it goes along Kathy’s creek. This is a really beautiful part. The water has carved its way through, over and around the rocks. I went down to get some nice pictures.

After a bit this Trail intersects with the loop trail. We made a left toward the parking lot then a left to go up to Chestnut Knob. The last time Sherri and I hiked here was in November 2016. We hiked to the waterfall loop and down to the Chestnut Knob Trail. We got to the top around 3 then back at our car around 4. Turns out this was the same time a fire started on Chestnut Knob! The whole thing went up in flames that day. I don’t believe they ever found the cause of the fire.

Now nearly a year and a half later there are plenty of charred trees but the majority of the fire damage is gone. That’s just what Mother Nature does. I read that even without human influence lightning strikes, forest burn and things regrow. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

This time though it was a massive mess with lots and lots of blowdowns. This must be from all the rain and storms we have been having. Some of it old and some of it new. All of them have been cut along the trails. If it were in a city I would call it urban decay. Not sure what to call it now. It looked a mess.

This tree was burned out on the inside. Thought I’d take a zen moment.

We walked up to the Jacob Fork River Gorge overlook. It had a great view of the falls. Probably from the lack of trees.

We decided to head back down instead of continuing to Chestnut Knob. On the way back we saw a couple hiking with their cat. They said it didn’t like people though and they waited for us to pass. It was a big cat and I thought it was a dog from a distance.

Today is the first day of daylight savings and there is plenty of daylight left but we already did 7 ish miles so we headed home.

Such a nice visual hike.

I got home and Mike was walking the dogs across the street. He wanted to go walk the trail at the Catawba Indian Reservation so off we went.

This time we parked at the new Catawba River Access. The trail was down the road past a couple of horse barns. the closest barn had one horse and a billy goat with a long beard. As we approached the goat ran away from us. He wasn’t penned in. We went over the bridge and followed the trail 1 mile to the end.

We turned around and headed back to the car. I noticed earlier one particular horse was interested in us. On the way back he came over to the fence to say hi.

Cooper did not know what to make of him! After our visit with the horse we headed back to the car. The billy goat was on the road watching us. He took off back toward the barn when we started walking. He was a fast thing and I couldn’t get a picture of him.

The trail continued past the car about another half mile. I was tired. I’d hiked and walked nearly 10 miles today. Mike and the dogs continued while I waited in the car.

The river was super high and flowing fast. It was nice to sit and watch. Then the boys came back and we headed home. This trail is part of the Carolina thread trail and will someday reach Riverwalk but for now it only goes from the south to the north boarder of the reservation property.

5 thoughts on “Hiking South Mountain State Park

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  1. I’ll have to look back and see if I’ve done any of those. High Shoals might be the one under ice I did this year but my memory… wait what was I saying? 🙂 A horse, goat, dog, cat and waterfalls. What a day!

    Liked by 1 person

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