South Mountains State Park is the largest state park in North Carolina covering more than 20,000 acres. South Mountains State park has almost 50 miles of trails for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. The most popular trail is the High Shoals Loop trail. The High Shoals Loop is a 2.7 mile strenuous trail that features an 80 foot waterfall. The park is very busy on weekends and holidays. See South Mountains State Park for detailed information. Trails in this park offer something for nearly every skill level from easy to very strenuous.
Once you enter the park you will come to the park offices on the right. This is a good place to visit for park info and public restrooms. Continue about 2 miles to the end of the roadwork find the main parking lot, passing several smaller parking lots including the equestrian lot. Several trailheads are located in this last parking lot including the trailhead for the high shoals loop trail. If you can only do one trail, this is the one to take. It is very strenuous. You will climb many punishing steps and get to crawl over many huge rocks. Don’t give up, your persistence will be rewarded with a wonderful view of the 80 foot falls that this park is famous for. Many people do not take the loop, but instead use this as an out and back to the falls. Check out the Park Map for parking and trailhead information.
When to Go
Weekends and holidays are always busy. Many evenings are also busy. Mid morning hikes are when you will find the least crowds. The park is open year round and something unique can be experienced in each season from spring flowers, to warm summer days, to fall colors and even frozen falls in the winter, if it is very cold.
Camping is by permit only. Reservations are recommended for camping sites with electric hookups. Hiking permits are not required. Equestrians must provide proof of a negative equine infectious anemia.
Dogs must be on leash at all times. Trails are great for dogs able to do many steps and climb rocks. Some senior or very young dogs may struggle on the High Shoals Loop trail, but can easily do many other trails in the park.