South Mountains State Park – Connelly Springs, North Carolina
April 30, 2017
I guess I’m going to start calling our hikes that – Hike The South. (HASHTAG) It is only fitting since just the Carolina’s alone have so many places to hike. But what a great weekend to get the second hike of the year completed on. We had really great weather. Cool that morning. Just great temps to hike in. Ashley and I left Clover at 7:00 am and headed to South Mountains. It was actually closer than I thought. Not far at all. Just above Cherryville, North Carolina.
The South Mountains… branch of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
I had never been to South Mountains but Ashley had been almost 20 years ago with friends. As soon as she said that I immediately remembered the photographs she has from that trip. We stopped in at the visitor’s center when we arrived to pick up a map. I also picked up a few items from their shop as well. We spoke with the woman at the counter and she let us know that one trail – Shinny Trail – was closed due to the fires that North Carolina has had in recent times. We asked her a few more questions before we left. It was nice to see, once we got to the main parking lot, a lot of people weren’t at the mountain yet. I believe in going early… especially on Sunday’s.
South Mountains covers about 20,000 acres and the highest elevation is at 3,000 ft. It is one of North Carolina’s most rugged areas. Also has tons of mountain streams and over 40 miles of trails. The park welcomes hikes, horses and bikers. Trails for all.
We noticed on our hike that some trees were down due to fire. I never did ask to see if they were part of the recent fires that East TN to NC have had or if it was a control burn. When you hit some of the open views along the trails, you could see off in the distance some of the recent fires on other mountain tops. It was only ironic I had on my “Smokies Strong” tee. A t-shirt that was designed and sold last year when the Smoky Mountains got hit with their horrible fire. (All proceeds went to the fire victims.) Really makes me sad to see all the fire damage our mountains have had in the Southeast.
The color was so great throughout the day. The green was just poppin’. Clearly can tell Spring is in full affect. Hiking with streams and waterfalls is soothing too. Just something about being in the woods and hearing that water. I don’t know. It is just soothing to the soul. It is a beautiful noise. Tranquility.
That first main trail we took first brought us to the big waterfall. That trail was really fun. (High Shoals Falls Loop) Unique trail full of creeks, rocks, wooden bridges and a few steps. Somewhat rugged. You can stop anywhere and soak in nature. The whole trail is a loop around. I believe the whole loop is 2.7 miles. But we took a different trail after getting to the top to see the waterfall.
Jacob’s Fork River, rugged terrain, steep slopes and wild flowers.
The waterfall is called High Shoals Falls. It is 80 ft long. When we got there, no one was there. Yay! I believe one couple walked up moments later and then a Dad with his kids. After that, we saw no one. It was nice to have the waterfall to ourselves. To soak it in, to photograph it and to take our picture with it. I set up my tripod so I could take a few good photographs of it. Yes, I hauled my tripod up the mountain along with my big camera and backpack. I bought me a new tripod last week. It is smaller and more compact but holds a DSLR with full zoom. So I’m excited to try it out on the next hike.
After hanging out at the waterfall for a bit, we headed up further past the waterfall… to the top of it. We then stopped to take a snack/water break and also to figure out which trail we were going to take next. About that time the sun came out as well.
I was unpacking a few things from my pack and I showed Ashley my knife. Don’t laugh. It is pink. Growl. But it was given to me from a salesman at work and of course he gave me a pink one. *eye-roll* But it is great knife and I keep it in my camper. Ashley pulled her knife out and I was like oh. Yeah… we will use your razor blade knife if needed. LOL!
We started on our second trail. We met a nice couple along the way who had been camping the night before. They gave us information on the direction we were headed. They were the only people we saw on this particular trail. It was a good hike. Lots of great scenery. I saw some pretty Dwarf Crested Iris’s (purple) as well. Saw many different mountain wildflowers on the whole hike that day.
We decided to hike around and come back down to the main trail where we started. Ashley took a bathroom break and then we started back up a new trail to a different mountain. It took us to a lookout and we could High Shoals Falls across in the distance. It was fun hike and this was the area where we noticed a lot of burnt trees down. When we got near the lookout, we had only hiked right under a mile. We laughed because it felt like 3 miles. The whole trail is straight up/incline.
Finally headed back down and decided to head to the lower creek near the beginning of the main trail. I wanted to get a rock from the creek. I normally get rocks from places I visit. It had been awhile since I got a creek stone though. I literally walked up and the perfect rock was just laying there for me… screaming pick me up. So I did. The water had a chill but felt nice.
Ashley and I had a great hike! South Mountains is a cool place. But we only scratched the surface. Several trails we didn’t get to hike. We started hiking about 8 am and finished up at 3 pm. Pretty good day of day hiking. We want to go back and camp. I would like to go fishing as well. I love that South Mountains State Park isn’t far away from us. Under a hour.
Here are a few photos Ashley took. I can always count on her to snag a few photos of me and us.
We decided to stop at a place we saw on the way in. It is called Redbone Willy’s. It was closed when we came by early that morning. It is in a town called Lawndale, North Carolina which I’m very familiar with because we use to race there with Daddy’s race car. But we stopped in that afternoon. Grabbed a Nathan’s hotdog and a scoop of ice cream. Okay, Ashley got a scoop and I got two scoops. That is fine after hiking all day. By the way, I got the Buckin’ Berry ice cream. It was made from fresh local strawberries and oh my god… it was good.
Redbone’s had a great store too. I was going in there to window shop but came away with a new bag! WHAT!? They carry my current favorite brand of bag – Kavu. I already had two Kavu bags. I got one in Table Rock State Park last year and then ordered another one online earlier this year. But this store had the Campsite bag I had seen online and it is the cutest. I love these bags and they are all I carry and use now. Great outdoor bag and made out of great canvas material.. which fits my lifestyle. I can’t carry the fancy leather bags. I’m too rough. Lol. Their store had SO many great clothes and other items but I had to get out of there before I bought something else. I told the guy who checked me out… I would be back!
But we enjoyed our dog and ice cream before heading back to Clover. Great day! Another hike in the books for Ashley and I! We are planning our next hike… here soon. Where will we end up?!?!
Here is a video from our day. Please watch in HD for best quality.