North Carolina is known for many things; it’s main attractions being the ever-growing city of Charlotte, the relocation destination Lake Norman, and the vacation-worthy surrounding destinations like Asheville, the Outer Banks beach, and Charleston, South Carolina (about a 3.5 hour drive from the Charlotte/Lake Norman area). Many people don’t know that North Carolina is also recognized for its mountains, and the amazing day trips and/or vacations you can experience without having to go far from home (if you are lucky enough to live here…)
While there are many mountains and hiking trails near by, Crowders Mountain should be at the top of your list if its not already. Its eleven trails ranging in difficulty from pastoral to strenuous, along with the breathtaking views and vivid wildflowers spotted throughout the mountain make it a popular place for rock climbers, hikers and nature enthusiasts. The highest peak of the mountain is a soaring 1,625 ft. in elevation, and the views from the top are well worth the challenge of the hike up. The cliffs offer 25-mile views of the surrounding piedmont and, when the skies are clear, you can see the Charlotte city skyline from both the Crowders summit and the Kings Pinnacle summit. Those hikers looking for a real challenge with a rewarding payoff should take the 2-mile Pinnacle Trail beginning at the Visitor’s Center and ending at Kings Pinnacle, to the 6.2-mile Ridgeline Trail leading into the South Carolina state line. Other trails like Lake Trail and Fern Trail are shorter and rated easy, and are great for a nature walk with the kids. Some of these trails circle the park lake, offering nice views and spots for fishing and canoeing/kayaking.
In addition to the hiking and rock climbing trails for the adventurous outdoorsy types, Corwders Mountain also provides a picnic area with 10 tables and grills, an additional 5 at the Linwood Access Area and another 4 at the Boulders Access Area. For larger groups there are 2 large shelters available, all are first come, first serve and free of charge, although the park does recommend calling to reserve a spot before your event. Camping is permitted in designated areas with a reservation.
“The mountains are calling, and I must go.”- John Muir
For most, connecting with nature is a refreshing, rewarding way to nourish the soul and satisfy the yearn for adventure. Just stepping outside barefoot allowing your feet to sink into the dirt and grass can be gratifying when you’re searching for grounding. While there are an endless amount of exciting places to go, see, dine, drink, play, and experience within the city, taking some time to reconnect in the fresh mountain air, the earthy smells surrounding you and the lush green trees stretching up to the bright blue skies can be very cleansing for the body, mind and soul. Many locals feel that Crowders Mountain is “home”, and should you decide to pay a visit, no doubt you’ll see plenty of smiling faces along the way.
Crowders Mountain is only about 25-35 miles west of the Charlotte/Lake Norman area, and is located in Gaston and Cleveland counties.