South Mountains State Park
Preface: If you are coming from 40 east of the park going west, the drive through Burke county is nothing less than spectacular. NC 18 and George Hildebrand Road are rural mountain drives of pure awesomeness. Make sure you have gas and your car is running well. Hallelujah for GPS because holy freaking nothing around for miles. I can't stress this enough. You will lose cell service when you enter the entrance to the park. Came on a Monday at about 8:30 am and there may have been ten cars at the Jacob parking. Perfect. The kiddo and I did the High Shoals Falls loop which is about 2.7 miles. It is labeled as strenuous with blue markers. It is definitely difficult. Most people just take the LEFT trail from the parking lot to the Falls and back. It is one mile each there and back. This side has a lot of stairs and runs parallel to the river. Clearly more scenic and if you are looking for that, stick to this side. The 2.7 mile loop takes you above the falls and back down. The aforementioned left side is where I would go up (easier to ascend and scenery) and you will come down the right. The right isn't as rocky and I thought this was why it was the easier side coming down. Bathrooms are right near the parking at this part of the loop. My 7 year old could do this and we took it slow. It took us about 1.5 hours and we stopped for photos etc. This is a difficult trail but it isn't the worse I've done. It is manageable IMO if you are in decent shape and go slow. It isn't a beginner's hike however. Fun fact: This crossed off every NC state park for me and have finally seen em all!
Long, hard hike if you want to get to the top of the falls, but we'll worth the trip. And lots of pools in the creek for quick cool-down Long the way.
Love love love this place! So much fun. The falls are lovely but take some of the other trails to explore other parts of the park, where the crowds thin out and you can be alone.
Me and my kids love this place I use to bring my dogs up here along time ago before when the road was still a dirt road
I took 7 kids ranging in age 8-13. We hiked up to the waterfall and then the kids played in the creek and we had a picnic! We will definitely go back. I recommend 100%.